I thought that a bluray of the 1993 Ted Turner Gettysburg movie [1] was available locally so I ordered it from the local JB Hi-Fis.  Instead I got a History Channel documentary produced by Ridley and Tony Scott.

This version of Gettysburg was an interesting take on the Battle of Gettysburg that focussed on smaller, more personal details such as the sad story of Amos Humiston [2]or a Confederate surgeon dealing with the wounded. Some of these bits were disturbing, if perhaps not as disturbing as they needed to be.

There were also some interesting details about Culp’s Hill, Dan Sickles’ errors by moving into the Peach Orchard, and the ordnance of the time. 

However the CGI elements were intrusive [3], and the at best passing mention of the 20th Maine at Little Round Top, were among the negatives. 

For me the biggest negative was the narration over the Pickett’s Charge sequence.  This was trying to present it as a real chance of success [4], and as the decisive moment of the battle [5]. It was probably the 2nd day that really mattered, and no later than the Union recapturing Culp’s Hill early on the 3rd day.

Overall this is a good, but not great, documentary about the battle. Another good review with other valid criticisms can be found here, and I fully agree with the last line of it:

Ken Burns’ twenty-year-old The Civil War still has a lock on my vote for best Civil War documentary ever.  


[1] Based on the excellent novel The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara

[2] I do recommend reading the linked Wikipedia article about Amos Humiston.  The dramatisation in the documentary of his story is tragically well done.

[3] I was rather snarkily tweeting CSI: Gettysburg as I was watching.

[4] To which I say: HA!

[5] And again I say HA!