Coming Up on TV: The two best Civil War films

Jeff Daniels (center) in Gettysburg

The Civil War began 150 years ago this month, and TCM is broadcasting the two best Civil War movies on April 25.

Ron Maxwell’s 1994 Gettysburg is the gold standard of Civil War films.  It follows Michael Shaara’s superb historical novel The Killer Angels and depicts the decisive three day battle.  It was filmed on the actual battlefield with re-enactors.  Maxwell took great care in maintaining historical accuracy.  Civil War buffs will recognize many lines of dialogue as historical, as well as shots that recall famous photographs.  In addition, Gettysburg is especially well-acted, especially by Jeff Daniels, Tom Berenger, Stephen Lang, Sam Elliott and Brian Mallon.

The other very best Civil War movie is the 1989 Glory, which tells the real-life story of an all-black unit in the Union Army.  Glory has tremendous performances by Denzel Washington, Andre Braugher, Morgan Freeman and Jihmi Kennedy.

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One Response to Coming Up on TV: The two best Civil War films

  1. Keifer H. says:

    Agreed.

    Jeff Daniels’ performance in Gettysburg is especially memorable; Tom Hanks as Captain Miller in Saving Private Ryan (1998) is an interesting comparison.

    The Hunley (1999) is another well-produced, carefully researched Civil War film. Armand Assante is captain of a hand-cranked, Confederate submarine that carries out the first successful attack in naval history. Donald Sutherland is convincing as General Pierre Beauregard.

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