Gettysburg: Movie and History Essay

Gettysburg: Movie and History Essay.

The American Civil War has captured the imagination and the hopes and fears of the American people. It is the only major war fought within the borders of the United States. It was a bloody war fought during the time of President Lincoln, considered as the greatest President of the US. Gettysburg is the historical landmark where the result of the Civil War was decided. The Gettysburg movie was based on Michael Shaara’s novel “The Killer Angels. ” It follows the events of the Battle of Gettysburg, which decided the turnout of the American Civil War.

Ronald F. Maxwell directed the film.

Gettysburg film is an important movie in that the National Park Service allowed, for the first time, a movie to film battle scenes on the very Gettysburg Battlefield. The movie needed thousands of people as volunteers for the battle scenes. As such, thousands of Americans participated in the battle scenes. Gettysburg was not very successful commercially in the theaters.

But when it was released in VHS and DVD format, it gained popularity. The film also featured several appearances from media personalities such as Ted Turner, the media mogul and Ken Burns, a documentary writer and filmmaker.

The film runs for an astounding 4 hours and 15 minutes. Synopsis of the Movie The Gettysburg film essentially chronicles the defense of Little Round Top as well as Pickett’s Charge. It portrays the chaos of the battlefield but presents clearly the strategy of the battle. The battle was for three days and the movie presented speeches of generals and officers as well as the personal reflections of the men in the battle. On the first day of battle, the movie focuses on John Buford as he selects the battlefield.

On the second day, the scenes shift to the manner in which Joshua Chamberlain defended Little Round Top. On the evening of the second day, the army prepares for Pickett’s Charge. The movie presents different perspectives from both Confederates and Union soldiers and officers, thereby presenting a better view of the Civil from the trenches. Interestingly, the film also shows the different conflicts of soldiers such as Longstreet and Lee who differed on how to go on with the battle tactic. Armistead on the other hand is fighting against his own friend Hancock and the Chamberlain brothers.

What Truly Happened at Gettysburg The Battle of Gettysburg claimed the most casualties during the American Civil War. During this war, the attack of Robert E. Lee with his Army of Northern Virginia was repulsed by Union Major Gen. George Gordon Meade with the Army of the Potomac. Gen. Lee positioned his army at Gettysburg. Confederate corps helped Lee’s forces and Union forces were forced back to retreat. The Union Army continued to suffer losses as Lee’s forces fought at the Light Round top, the Wheatfield, Peach Orchard, and Devil’s Den.

In spite of these losses, the Union soldiers held their ground. The dramatic Pickett’s Charge with 12,500 Confederates attacked the Union line. Yet, with the rifles and the artillery of the Union soldiers, and the Confederates lost badly. With this defeat, Lee led the Confederate Army back to Virginia. More than 50,000 Americans fell on the fields of Gettysburg on that three-day war (Stackpole, 1956). Gettysburg: Movie and History The movie is historically accurate as it presents only the battle scenes of the American Civil War.

Although it is difficult to verify some of the statements that the officers and generals uttered to their men, the overall effect still provides an accurate description of what truly happened during the Battle of Gettysburg. The movie presented an amazing flurry of battle scenes, dialog and military tactics in the film. Although the movie was a little too long, it was necessary to present the complexity, the confusion and the difficulties that soldiers faced at the trenches. What is lacking, however, is a deeper analysis of why the battle was fought and what its implications are in the American society.

Perhaps the filmmakers left it to historians and to teachers to deal with the historical aspect of the film. Conclusion In terms of capturing the drama, the tension, and the chaos of the Battle of Gettysburg, the movie has succeeded. What it lacks in deeper historical analysis may be supplemented by historians and teachers. Students who will watch the film will come to appreciate history better and will develop a greater appreciation for Gettysburg and indirectly, for what Lincoln has brought to the American nation.


Stackpole, Gen. Edward J. , “They Met at Gettysburg”, Stackpole Books, 1956.

Gettysburg: Movie and History Essay

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