Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Not So Much

I just stumbled upon this piece.

I must confess that I'm not an accomplished movie critic. But I do know more than a little about the American Civil War. So let me say this about the following list. It is seriously flawed. Seriously, folks. It it were me, I'd include only two movies on this list, Glory and Gettysburg. Ken Burns' Civil War series is excellent, but it ain't a movie. Shouldn't even be on this list. Gods and Generals is a truly awful movie. How can anybody that saw it think otherwise? My recollection is that I could not wait for it to be over. It was that painful. I agree that Robert Duvall is a fabulous actor, but ten Robert Duvalls could not save this turkey.

The 5 best American Civil War movies capture the essence of our country's bloodiest war. The American Civil War is a filmmaker's gold mine. Bloody battles, families torn apart, gruesome medical scenes, and famous political figures. Plus, hoopskirts. What's not to love? 
  1. "Glory" - Stellar performances by Matthew Broderick, Morgan Freeman, Cary Elwes, and Denzel Washington make this historic flick about heroism and racial tension within the country's first black volunteer regiment a home run. The 1989 movie nabbed three Oscars, including a Best Supporting Actor award for Washington.  
  2. "Gods and Generals" – Made as a prequel to the wildly successful "Gettysburg", this movie trails General Stonewall Jackson. Jeff Daniels returns to reprise his role of Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain alongside Robert Duvall as Robert E. Lee. Duvall's performance as Lee is the only thing that outshines the original "Gettysburg."  
  3. "Gone with the Wind" – You can't write a top American Civil War movie list and not include "Gone with the Wind". Fiddle-dee-dee! While the movie centers around feisty Southern belle Scarlett O'Hara instead of battlefields, the movie still provides an intimate look at the war-torn lives of those left behind.  
  4. Ken Burns' "The Civil War" – While this may not be a fictional movie, this documentary film provides the best and most fascinating historical account of the Civil War. Burns masterfully makes the wealth of historical documents seem riveting. A must-see for any history buff.  
  5. "Gettysburg" – In addition to being a moving account of the turning point of the American Civil War, the movie delivers some of the best monologues in film history. Don't let the movie's 261-minute length scare you away from one of the best war movies ever made.
Gone with the Wind is a kind of special case. As a movie, it's pretty damn good. But as history it's terrible. The moonlight and magnolias South that Rhett Butler and Scarlett O'Hara inhabit never existed except in the minds of people who had to explain to the world and most of all to themselves that slavery was OK. There are more erroneous stereotypes in this movie than Carter has liver pills: happy darkies, evil carpetbaggers, malevolent Yankee drifters with naught but rapine on their minds, heroic Confederates, heroic Klansmen, etc., etc.

Bottom line: there aren't a whole bunch of good Civil War movies.
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