To remember those who made the supreme sacrifice on this Memorial Day
This Memorial Day weekend, we take a break from cop films for a selection that fits with the spirit of the holiday. We feel it is important to remember those brave souls who died for this great nation.
Memorial Day grew from the post-Civil War’s “Decoration Day.” Decoration Day was declared on May 30th of each year to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. Congress eventually made the last Monday in May the national Memorial Day holiday to honor the men and women who died in all wars fighting for our country.
The deadliest battle in American history was at the small Pennsylvania town of Gettysburg. In 1993, Ted Turner produced and released the definitive film on the battle. Gettysburg (1993) takes a deep dive into the 3-day fight and explores the characters that made history on that field. It is a great movie, and is our Weekend Buff recommendation for Memorial Day.
Gettysburg was filmed on location in and around the town where the battle took place and re-counts the entire three days of the battle. It gives the points of view of both Union and Confederate generals and how their personalities, strengths, and flaws influenced the outcome of the fight. It is a character study of the battle’s principal figures.
A hastily assembled (they didn’t get a chance to grow out beards and the fake beards are cringeworthy), but all-star cast was put together. The cast includes Martin Sheen as General Lee, Tom Berenger as General Longstreet, Jeff Daniels as Colonel Joshua Chamberlain, Sam Elliot as General Buford, and Stephen Lang as General George Pickett. Hundreds of Civil War re-enactors were employed to fill the ranks in the days before CGI.
The large cast worked on-set for months together and created a strong bond both to the battle and to each other. The cast members had several reunions and stayed close in the years after the film was made. The bond is evident in the great acting that makes the movie. If you google “Stephen Lang” and “Gettysburg” you will find that he still makes appearances at the site of the battle and lends his fame to honor the memory of the men who died there.
Gettysburg is based on the book The Killer Angels, by Michael Shaara. The movie was initially slated to be a made for tv mini-series and is quite long at over 4 hours (it’s so long they even put in an intermission). It’s worth it though. You will come away with feeling as if you’ve lived that moment in history.
The movie is available to rent or buy on most major platforms such as Amazon, YouTube, and Google Play for $4 or $5. So, learn more about a critical event in American history and remember the soldiers who died there. Gettysburg is an investment that is worth your time.
We would also recommend visiting the site of the battle. The National Parks Service has done a remarkable job (you don’t hear that often about a federal agency) in restoring the site. They have worked with private organizations over the past few decades to return the battlefield to the way it was in July 1863. Fields were cleared, a peach orchard was planted, wheat fields grown, and buildings renovated to give the visitor a true appreciation for the monumental events of those three days. A museum and visitor’s center were built to tell the story. It is a moving experience and definitely worth a weekend trip.
Thanks for following The Ops Desk and have a great weekend!