Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Civil War Movies to Commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg

posted by Nell Minow

This week is the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, still the greatest loss of life in American history, the turning point of the war, and the inspiration for one of the greatest speeches in history, Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, three simple paragraphs that connected our future to the visions that fueled our past.

The struggles of that era continue to resonate through today’s debates about the essence of the American character. Many movies that focus on the Civil War, and of course Ken Burns’ acclaimed documentary series for PBS is a masterpiece. These are also especially worthwhile:

Gettysburg Michael Shaara’s award-winning book The Killer Angel is the basis for this two-part saga produced by Ted Turner and starring Jeff Daniels, Martin Sheen, and Richard Jordan.


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The Blue and the Gray This 1982 miniseries starring Gregory Peck, Stacy Keach, Kathleen Beller, Lloyd Bridges, Geraldine Page and Colleen Dewhurst is based on the work of Pulitzer Prize-winning Bruce Catton.


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The Red Badge of Courage Real-life WWII hero Audie Murphy stars in this story of a frightened young soldier, based on the classic book by Stephen Crane published in 1895. (Remade in 1974 with Richard Thomas)


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The General Buster Keaton loves Annabelle and he loves his train engine, called The General. When both are captured by the Union,he must come to the rescue in a masterpiece of exciting action and comic genius.


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Lincoln Daniel Day-Lewis won a much-deserved Oscar for his performance in this outstanding Steven Spielberg film about the last days of the life of the 16th President.


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  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Joseph Parker

    Where on Earth is “Glory”??? I cannot you would fail to include this movie! Not having it here is simply a slap in the face to every Union Soldier who served and/or Died in this tragic part of American History! And…, to their descendent’s as well!

    • Nell Minow

      Thanks, Mr. Parker. “Glory” is a brilliant movie, one of my all-time favorites.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Ken Howes

    All these movies were good (I haven’t seen the Keaton comedy), but “Gettysburg” was the nonpareil Civil War movie. Shaara truly got inside the heads of especially Longstreet and Chamberlain.

    • Nell Minow

      Thanks, Mr. Howes. Shaara’s knowledge and insight is unparalleled.

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  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Ann Bartholomew

    And Glory?

    • Nell Minow

      Yes, Ms. Bartholomew — “Glory” is a superb film. Thanks.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Patrick Burk

    Glory by all means, Cold Mountain and Raintree County for the home front view.

    Gettysburg while of interest to Civil War enthusiasts, was a poorly directed ponderous bore except for Jeff Daniels’ excellent take on Chamberlain. The re-enactors bullied the project and made it lifeless with the heavy sanctification of the events. Shaara’s books are excellent, but the movie makers would do better to follow Shelby Foote’s sense of tension, drama and pace.

    • Nell Minow

      Thanks, Mr. Burk. Much appreciated.

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