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A non-DigiBook Blu-ray edition of the Civil War epic gets a formal release - does it offer anything new....?
Warner / 271 Minutes / 1993 / Unrated / Street Date: November 15, 2011
I just wish it was longer.
Gettysburg is a woolly mammoth of a movie, a 4+ hour marathon of a Civil War picture that doesn't just tell a facet of the story of its eponymous battle, but the whole gosh darn thing. Sparing no expense in terms of costumes or oceans of extras, Gettysburg - on paper, at least - is the kind of sprawling mid-century epics that even in the 1990s, they weren't making any more.
Unfortunately, even with all the money thrown at it, there's a peculiar hollowness to Gettysburg that leaves it disappointingly disjointed. There's very likely historical accuracy around every corner here, but director Ronald F. Maxwell ain't no Shelby Foote: We have the 'who' and the 'what' and the 'how' down perfectly in Gettysburg, but the 'why' is kept coldly at bay.
I don't mean to insist that Gettysburg should be more touchy-feely - weepy introspection was not an element of this iconic battle, after all - but especially with a 1/6 of a day investment, the movie should have more than just going-through-the-motions recreation. Instead of legitimately translating the stories and strategies from Gettysburg to the screen, Maxwell and company elect to simply illustrate them.
Civil War buffs will very likely swarm to this high-definition disc - it should come as little surprise that this writer isn't exactly the film's prime demographic - but more casual audiences might find Gettysburg a bit too bloated to enjoy fully. There are elements of high-profile production and fantastic photography that keep the movie above water most of the time, but just a little more character development would have gone a long way here.