- Actors: Jeff Daniels, Stephen Lang, Robert Duvall
- Directors: Ronald F. Maxwell
- Format: AC-3, Director’s Cut, DTS Surround Sound, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
- Language: English
- Subtitles: French, English, Spanish
- Region: All Regions
- Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
- Number of discs: 1
- Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
- Studio: Warner Home Video
- DVD Release Date: November 15, 2011
- Run Time: 280 minutes
First, you need to be a Civil War person to even think about buying this.
Second, you will need about a 3-hour block of time to watch it.
Answering “yes” to both of the above gives you a viewing experience that can be enjoyable and/or enraging or both.
The film has a unique view of slavery and slaves that was very upsetting to the general public during the run in theaters. The film portrays slaves as generally accepting their condition even as they wish for freedom. Additionally, the film has a number of Afro-Americans working for the Confederate Army without any apparent problems.
This is a hagiography of Thomas Jackson!
Closer to history than most films, it omits the incidents that could tarnish the shinning image. Stephen Lang, a better actor than his reputation indicates, is a credible Jackson. The portrayal is more loving husband than Old Testament prophet or “Old Tom Fool” instructor. Lang follows the script doing a good job in making Jackson loveable.
The battles depicted are First Manassas, Antietam, Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. The producers use experienced re-enactors as extras, 7500 of them, providing a very realist look to the battles. The battles are very short on history but used as a stage for incidents involving Jackson.
Bee’s gift to Jackson of a nickname, at First Manassas, is well done.
Antietam is more of a Jackson says something than the battle.
Fredericksburg fails to mention Mead breaking Jackson’s line. In fact, the battle is more Lee and Longstreet than anything. The movie treats Burnside harshly repeating all the discredited “should a, would a, could a” arguments used against him.
Chancellorsville is the best of the battles. The attack is well done and the route of Howard’s Corps realistic. Jackson’s wounding is accurate.
Left out of the movie is every questionable Jackson performance in battle and every silly argument he started or continued. The only hint of personnel problems is in two small scenes, quickly ended.
Over one hour of additional footage makes this a true extended edition. This is not holding a scene longer or a couple of extra camera shots. John Wilkes Booth and Antietam are not in the original release.
Blu-ray produces a scrumptious visual feast. This is the type of film that makes Blu-ray worthwhile with long battle lines and landscapes. Special features are a new introduction and commentaries.
This is the prequel to “Gettysburg” and uses many of the same actors. The years between the two movies has visibly aged several of them. The result can be disconcerting with men well into middle-age playing characters in their 30s.
All of this is nitpicking. For a Civil War person this is a real treat available at a great price. I was very happy to find this in my Christmas stocking.
***Check out the Siege of Petersburg Online for daily posts on battle accounts in newspaper articles, diary entries, letters and more!
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