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Gettysburg's reverent approach to history is balanced with the committed work of a talented cast - and the hard-hitting dramatization of a bloody turning point in the Civil War. Read critic reviews

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Movie Info

This war drama depicts one of the biggest events of the American Civil War, the Battle of Gettysburg. The massive three-day conflict begins as Confederate General Robert E. Lee (Martin Sheen) presses his troops north into Pennsylvania, leading to confrontations with Union forces, including the regiment of Colonel Joshua Chamberlain (Jeff Daniels). As the battle rages on and casualties mount, the film follows both the front lines and the strategic maneuvering behind the scenes.

Cast & Crew

Tom Berenger
Lt. Gen. James Longstreet
Martin Sheen
Gen. Robert E. Lee
Stephen Lang
Maj. Gen. George E. Pickett
Jeff Daniels
Col. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain
Sam Elliott
Brig. Gen. John Buford
Richard Jordan
Brig. Gen. Lewis A. Armistead
C. Thomas Howell
Lt. Thomas D. Chamberlain
Kevin Conway
Sgt. "Buster" Kilrain
Maxwell Caulfield
Col. Strong Vincent
Royce D. Applegate
Brig. Gen. James L. Kemper
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Critic Reviews for Gettysburg

All Critics (22) | Top Critics (8) | Fresh (17) | Rotten (5)

Audience Reviews for Gettysburg

  • Nov 30, 2012
    Really a terrible film. Though it gets points for historical accuracy there is no heart in this overly long mess. Scenes that should take 30 seconds drag on for what seems like hours. The performances (excluding Jeff Daniels) seem like the actors are just going through the motions. The editing is sloppy. Then there is the score. The music plays constantly through the film and is based in digital keyboard sounds. You would think a film that strives to be so historically accurate would have spent the time to develop a more fitting score.
    Graham J Super Reviewer
  • May 28, 2012
    Hey kids, it's time for a fun fact: Gettysburg ran for a whopping "three" days. I know, that's really crazy, but enough about the "Gettysburg" movie, let's talk about the runtime of the actual Gettysburg battle. No, but seriously though, this is a long, long, movie, and I actually had the guts to throw on the extended version that, well, only had 17 minutes tossed on, which isn't that much when we're talking an over four-and-a-half hour long film, yet I still watched it that way and made it to the end, partially because I managed to keep myself alert by making myself chuckle every time I thought about Ramón E. Lee. Man, I think ol' Ben Willard here had the right idea going with the name Martin Sheen, because at the point when he played JFK, let alone the commander of the Confederate army, he had pretty much become the basis for, "Once you go 'white', you never go back". I love how I all but start my mornings by parting my curtains to the beautiful sunlight and singing birds, stretching back and proclaiming "Alabama isn't racist anymore, you yankees", and I choose to joke about white dominance, of all times, when I'm reviewing a movie about the war that pretty much sparked the near-universally-believed stereotype that the South is filled with racist monsters. Well, I guess it kind of cancels out, because if nothing else proves that we're not all stupid rednecks, then me watching this film should, because as white as drunk, racist, neanderthal rednecks are, they're not quite white enough to sit through a four-and-a-half hour movie about the Civil War, because at that point, you're so white that you make Martin Sheen look like the Ramón Antonio Gerardo Estévez he was so very wrongfully born as. Still, no matter who or what you are, boredom is universal, and while this is a really good film that's ultimately short on the slowness (It's the only time you can use the word short when describing this film), dull spots creep their ways in, as you would imagine. The thing about this film is that a fair bit of it is all so very good and old fashion in tone, as well as, to a degree, storytelling, complete with excessive padding. Of course, where old fashion epics of this type didn't trim up because the editor just wanted to hurry up and get through with his cutting and gluing, this film pads out through endless exposition, which I can forgive just fine if we're talking about a film that's about two hours or so, but we're not. We're talking about a mammoth well over four hour long film that's mostly exposition told through dialogue, and no matter how much they try to keep things from getting too dry by incorporating a human casualness about the dialogue, all of the incessant talking gets to lose steam and dynamicity after a while, rendering the film, shockingly not montonous, yet still quite decidedly repetitious. This bloated exposition, or rather, over accurate portrayal of the events of the time, of course, supplement a very matter-of-fact tone that looms over the film, rarely bearing down on it, yet when it does set in a little too deeply, resonance suffers at the hands of a degree of arrogance that's only rarely intense, yet still proves to a touch impediment to the film's flow. It certainly adds a bit of inconsistency with such pieces of dramatisation as the aforementioned incorporation of casual dialogue amidst factual exposition, as well as the dramatic intensification - much of which gets to be simply cheesy -, leaving the film only slightly offputting in theme, yet still a smidge thematically uneven, neverless. The film is as sprawling, overwhelming and somewhat uneven as the very battle it's centered around, yet a winner, nevertheless, kept alive by, if nothing else, the charm of its inspiration. Still, there's no nothing else about this film, in terms of strength, because outside of the charm and fascinating intrigue, the real breath of life behind this film that pertains to its ambitions is the fulfillment of that ambition in quite a number of ways. Kees Van Oostrum's cinematography is lush and sweeping, capturing the scope and glory of the environment, with Randy Edelman's remarkable score further texturizing the atmosphere, all centered around fine production designs and authentic locations that boast an immersive feel. All of this technical and stylistic skill all goes into supplementing the strength of the dazzling war sequences. Sure, these sequences are few and far between, as well as made overlong by faithfulness to battle authenticity to the point of dragging things out, yet the fact of the matter as that the combat is authentic in structure, yet still with much theatrical intensity to give the audience a sense of presence amidst the crossfire. For this, credit goes out to director Ron Maxwell (Huh, sounds like the lead in a bad cop show from the '80s) and his inspired direction, which is admittedly often inspired to a detrimental point, tainting the film with a few blows to the steam, yet on the whole, he keeps momentum alive and well, and more than expected, taking such an overlong, sprawling epic that mostly consists of exposition and matter-of-fact historical storytelling and drawing from it an unexpected amount of genuine entertainment value, married with emotional resonance, to create a thoroughly enjoyable epic that's mammoth length runs mostly rather smoothly, recieving an extra push from a cast both as sprawling and as charismatic as the film itself, with each performance delivering charm and, here and there, some depth. I would regard Martin Sheen a tremendous miscast for the role of Robert E. Lee, and yet, while he's coming nowere close to an Anthony Hopkins as Richard Nixon level of miscast transcendance, Sheen manages to capture much of the nobility and stern presence of Lee with an involving aura of humanity and professionalism that makes him entirely believable, maybe not necessarily as Lee himself - considering the dramatic miscast -, but as a strong leader. Sheen is a show-stealer, yet this is a show he shares with one fellow acting talent after another, and whether it be Tom Berenger, Jeff Daniels, Sam Elliot, Kevin Conway or Ponyboy Curtis-I mean, C. Thomas Howell, the film is riddled with a massive cast of glowing charismas with depth and believability, all tied into each other with comfortable chemistry. The film is faulty and bloated, yet charming in its ambition, with a stylish general fulfillment of those promises of depth and entertainment value securing the film as an ultimately satisfying day-long sit. At the end of the three days the battle and its film ran, the film finds itself hurt by its unrelenting exposition and reptition that supplements a rather cocky matter-of-fact tone, somewhat jarringly broken up by the unsubtleties within the more melodramatised dramatised points, yet the film marches on... and on, and on, and on, propelled by a fine style and production to empower sweep and, by extension, a surprisingly prevalent amount of entertainment value, intrigue, depth and all around charm, carried by across-the-board charismatic and, at times, spirited performances and chemistry among the colossal cast, ultimately leaving Detective-I mean director Ron Maxwell's "Gettysburg" a fascinating, entertaining and rewarding epic recreation of the unforgettable turning point in an unforgettable war. 3/5 - Good
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Oct 07, 2010
    Ted Turner is a Civil War nut, and so it’s no surprise that he helped fund this sprawling, re-enactor-laden production of the famous battle of the American Civil War. Director James Maxwell and the production team did a pretty good job of coordinating the film and the actor/re-enactors that form the battle scenes. If you’re not a history buff, though, there will be little to latch onto regarding the why of the tactics and the flow of the battle. The best that can be said is that it hits the high points of the multi-day action pretty well. The script was lifted from the very good novel Killer Angels by Michael Shaara. The movie, like the book, tells the story of the battle from the viewpoint of a few key individuals, of high and low rank. Jeff Daniels is the standout here: He's very believable and comfortable in his role as Col. Joshua Chamberlain. He has the best scenes, and we know the most about his character from the real Chamberlain’s writings so there's plenty of depth to his portrayal. It's interesting to note that the whole war could be said to have hinged on what his character did at one point in the action. Truly a case of how one man made a big difference. Less effective is Martin Sheen as General Robert E. Lee. An enigmatic figure at best, Lee’s character here is mostly reconstructed from a very romantic viewpoint. The real man is elusive, although Sheen does his best in some of the smaller scenes give a glimpse of what he might have been like. Tom Berenger suffers from bad makeup, but he manages to act past that as General James Longstreet. One of the more sympathetic characters is Confederate General Lew Armistead, played by the late Richard Jordan in his last film. It’s interesting to note that Jordan died the day of the premiere of the movie, almost to the minute that his character dies on screen. He does a good job portraying a war-weary, disillusioned commander who’s been losing his friends one by one over the years of war. It’s a nice performance, and amidst the patriotic drumbeats of the film, a welcome shift from the stiff marble-statue portrayals of most of the rest of the generals. Sam Eliott also has a nice role as John Buford, whose defense of the roads into Gettysburg was perhaps the whole reason the battle was fought. There’s certainly plenty of action, spaced throughout the film. The battle sequences are pretty good, and accurately capture the tactics and cost of an attack. The ‘fog of war’ and lack of information about the opposing armies’ movements is also a central theme to the movie, as it was for warfare of the period. But none of this will really interest the average viewer, and that’s where the movie fails to engage: It’s a niche film, with a big budget and lots of sweeping camera work, but no one except a student of history will really care much for what’s going on. It’s somewhat of an anti-war film, and doesn’t point fingers at the underlying reasons for the war. For the Confederacy its still about state’s rights in 1863. For Lincoln’s general’s it’s trying to lift the war to something nobler: setting other men free. Only Chamberlain really makes this clear in a nice speech delivered by Daniels. Otherwise, we’re left adrift in a critical battle that we don’t really understand. It was a turning point in the war between the states, but no one realized it at the time. If you like period pieces with warfare, there aren’t many films about the Civil War that can match this one. While it’s far from perfect in terms of acting or dialogue, and there are some cheesy effects (the beards are really poorly done!, it’s still interesting to watch and marvel that people once killed each other who worshiped the same God, and who truly were from the same families and circles of friends. It's a four hour film, so be prepared with plenty of snacks. You might also want to watch something like Ken Burns Civil war before viewing, it will give you much more perspective on the war up to July 1863. Trivia: See if you can catch Ted Turner's cameo appearances in the film.
    Mark K Super Reviewer
  • Oct 06, 2010
    Gettysberg directed by Ronald F. Maxwell and financed by Ted Turner is an epic war film. The film recreates the battle of Gettysberg during the American civil war. During the three days of July 1,2 and 3rd 1863, the Confederate army and Union army clashed head to head to gain control of Gettysberg Pennsylvania. Gettysberg was a strategic point of interest for the Confederate army as Gettysberg had a network of important roads that led to the Northern states. taking Gettysberg would have permitted to Confederate forces to march on Washington D.C. This film chronicles the battle in vivid detail. This is an incredible film to watch because the attention to every single detail is well done. I would say that this film is quite accurate and it has minimal inaccuracy. Jeff Daniels delivers his greatest performance as Joshua Chamberlain. Martin Sheen plays Robert E. Lee, the much respected Confederate general. Gettysberg is a different kind of war film as this is set during the Civil war. The three days of brutal warfare are astounding to watch on the big screen. Everything about the battle is huge and its really awesome to see this incredible battle unfold on film. Maxwell direction is superb and the actors involved in this project really deliver something special on screen. As a war film, Gettysberg delivers something very epic, this is a four hour long film compressing three big days of battle into those four hours. If you're a civil war buff, you must watch this film. The film is quite the experience, and the film has a lot going for it. One thing thats great is that it shows both sides of the conflict, Confederate and Union. Despite some conflicting opinions on both sides, you come to understand why these men would fight for something. Gettysberg shows us not only the battle, But the reason why both sides are fighting. To that degree, Gettysberg is one terrific film as this was a war that ravaged not only America, but families and friends as well.
    Alex r Super Reviewer

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