This television miniseries is the type of film that Hollywood rarely makes anymore in an era of budget consciousness, a war epic with a cast of thousands. Like the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel upon which it's based, the film restricts its dramatization to the battlefield and surrounding area (no cutaways to President Lincoln fretting at the White House here) and focuses on a handful of major players. It's a wise narrative choice given the endless dramatic possibilities and the multiple real-life historical figures involved. Budgetary restrictions sometimes overwhelm director Ron Maxwell's ability to mount the awe-inspiring tableaux that he's attempting to create, but he succeeds to an inspiring degree, proving that the sweeping period epic isn't dead. Performances are riveting, particularly from Jeff Daniels as a stoic hero and Martin Sheen, eerie in his resemblance to Robert E. Lee. One of the better projects to show up on television in the past few decades, Gettysburg (1993) is to be applauded for its adherence to its respected source material and some inspired casting choices. Widespread talk of a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for Daniels during the film's limited theatrical run didn't materialize in an actual Academy Award nod, but the actor does outstanding work in one of his greatest, most intense roles.
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The Civil War epic Gettysburg receives the star treatment from Warner with some spectacular results. Image quality is far better than would be expected. The picture, which is framed at the original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and employs an anamorphic transfer, is nicely detailed with strong colors and excellent detail. The sound is also very impressive. A new 5.0 Dolby Digital is balanced very well between dialogue, sound effects, and music. None of these elements overwhelms the other making for a smart sound mix. Also available is a surround track in French and subtitles in English and French. The big surprise for this title is the number of supplemental features. Of strong interest is a commentary track from director/screenwriter Ronald F. Maxwell, cinematographer Kees Van Oosrum, author James M. McPherson, and historian Craig Symonds. While there are significant gaps between comments (only selected scenes have commentary), this track is still filled with fascinating information, both from the filmmaking and historical perspectives. In addition are two documentaries, the first hosted by actor Martin Sheen and covers the making of this film, while the second, the Oscar-nominated "The Battle of Gettysburg, narrated by Leslie Nielsen, takes a look at the battle in general. Both are fascinating in their own respects, and are complimented with a short "location" featurette with additional footage taken on the set. Finally rounding out this fine disc are the theatrical trailer and television spots, plus filmographies for some of the cast and the director, a battlefield map, and some additional interviews with the cast and crew. If there is one complaint about this DVD, it's the reluctance of Warner to use two discs for longer movies. At four-plus hours, most studios would split the movie over two discs, but in the case of Gettysburg, a DVD-18 has been used, meaning the movie is split over two sides, each with two layers, possibly creating problems with handling. Still, that is a small complaint for such a nice overall package.
All Movie Guide - Karl Williams
|Source:||Turner Home Ent|
|Presentation:||[Wide Screen, Full Frame]|