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Not sure what they were trying to do
on 12 August 2012
Well, I finally decided to buy the movie, and have now watched it. I don't think I could sit through it again.
It's done on an ambitious scale - it looks like what it claims to be, a presentation of small elements of a major battle, and it gives an overview of the battle which is of wider scope than anything I've seen before. Photography is excellent, as you would expect, though I became fatigued by the relentless slo-mo close ups of exploding bullet wounds.
I'm really not certain why I found that it grated. I was not offended by anything as important as the cap badges(!), but the technique of switching between the accounts of the personal view (the selected individuals used to illustrate the story) and the high-level grand plan view leaves a gap in the middle which makes it hard to follow - I would have liked to see more of a narrative at divisional level as well. The blood and gore is probably over-done - we get the idea very quickly that war is horribly brutal, and the constant focus on this aspect gets uncomfortably close to obsession at times. The talking heads were not particularly interesting - they could have been anyone, and most of what they added was well known or obvious anyway. I think mostly it is the over-earnestness of the commentary - moronically explaining "he is now in terrible danger" and so forth - yes, we had sort of picked up on that as well.
I'm left unsure what the film was trying to do, if only to justify the big budget. I don't think it said anything new about Gettysburg, I dont think the micro vs macro view idea works very well, and the gory presentation tells us that war is not pleasant, and then explains it over and over again for the benefit of slower viewers. It didn't really make it as education, and as entertainment it is very much inferior to the Gettysburg film from the Gods & Generals trilogy. I was disappointed - I wanted it to be better than that.