Theatrical poster for Gettysburg
|Directed by||Ronald F. Maxwell|
|Produced by||Moctesuma Esparza,|
|Written by||Ronald F. Maxwell|
|Music by||Randy Edelman|
|Distributed by||New Line Cinema|
|Running time||254 min.|
Gettysburg is a 1993 film that dramatizes the decisive Battle of Gettysburg in the American Civil War. It was directed by Ronald F. Maxwell, who also wrote the screenplay, a close adaptation of Michael Shaara's 1974 novel The Killer Angels, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1975.
The film follows the plot line of Killer Angels. The focus on the first day is on John Buford, who selects the battlefield. The focus on the second day is Joshua Chamberlain's defense of Little Round Top. The focus on the following evening is on preparation for and the execution of Pickett's Charge. Lewis Armistead is the major focus of those scenes.
The film was originally intended to have been a TV miniseries. The producers originally pitched the project to ABC in 1991. ABC initially agreed to back the project, but when a TV movie about George Custer got low ratings, ABC pulled out. It wasn't long until media mogul Ted Turner picked it up and the film went into production.
For the first time, the National Park Service allowed the motion picture industry to recreate and film battle scenes directly on the Gettysburg Battlefield, including scenes of Devil's Den and Little Round Top. However, much of the movie was shot at a nearby Adams County farm. Thousands of Civil War reenactors from across the country volunteered their time and expense to come to Gettysburg to participate in the massive battle scenes.
The miniseries was set to air on TNT. But when Turner saw part of the film during post-production, he realized it was much bigger than a miniseries and decided to release the film theatrically. The film was distributed by New Line Cinema which Turner would acquire a year later. Released in fewer than 150 theaters nationwide, and limited to only two showings or less per day because of its length, the film still managed to gross over ten million dollars at the box office, but statistically speaking was a box-office flop. It would go on to become an all-time high seller on the VHS and DVD market, and has become a staple of classroom history lessons. Its broadcast TV premier on TNT in June 1994 garnered over 23 million viewers, a record for cable TV at the time.
One of the longest films ever released by a Hollywood studio, Gettysburg runs 254 minutes (4 hours, 14 minutes) on VHS and DVD. A "Director's Cut", with several extended or deleted scenes, was produced and sold as a part of a special "Collector's Edition" released on VHS and LaserDisc, which also included Mort Künstler's book of Gettysburg paintings, an original Civil War lead Minié ball, some stock photographs of key officers from the battle, and other items. The editor's cut has not appeared on any DVDs to date. Ron Maxwell's 271-minute (4 hours, 31 minutes) Director's Cut has been shown on Turner's TNT Station regularly. This version is not available on DVD.
The soundtrack was composed by Randy Edelman.
A prequel, Gods and Generals, was released in 2003.
The strategy game, "Gettysburg" (PC/1994) was the first title released by Turner Interactive. It contained 67 cinematic cut-scenes from the motion picture, many of them out-takes.
Civil War buff Ted Turner has a cameo appearance in one of the battle scenes as Colonel Waller T. Patton. During Major General Pickett's (Stephen Lang) charge, some Confederate troops come to a fence that they have to climb over. Turner plays the Confederate officer who leads the charge, then gets shot down.
Another cameo appearance is by Civil War buff Ken Burns, who wrote and directed the epic PBS documentary, The Civil War. He portrays an aide to Major General Hancock (Brian Mallon) during Pickett's Charge. He can be seen saying "General, please get down. We cannot spare you," to Hancock, to which Hancock replies with his famous quotation, "There are times when a corps commander's life does not count."
- Tom Berenger as Lt. Gen. James Longstreet
- Martin Sheen as Gen. Robert E. Lee
- Stephen Lang as Maj. Gen. George Pickett
- Jeff Daniels as Col. Joshua Chamberlain
- Richard Jordan as Brig. Gen. Lewis A. Armistead
- Andrew Prine as Brig. Gen. Richard B. Garnett
- Cooper Huckabee as Henry Thomas Harrison
- Patrick Gorman as Maj. Gen. John Bell Hood
- Bo Brinkman as Maj. Walter H. Taylor
- James Lancaster as Lt. Col. Arthur Fremantle
- W. Morgan Sheppard as Maj. Gen. Isaac R. Trimble and narrator
- Kieran Mulroney as Maj. Moxley Sorrel
- James Patrick Stuart as Col. Edward Porter Alexander
- Tim Ruddy as Maj. Charles Marshall
- Royce D. Applegate as Brig. Gen. James L. Kemper
- Sam Elliott as Brig. Gen. John Buford
- C. Thomas Howell as Lt. Thomas Chamberlain
- Kevin Conway as Sgt. "Buster" Kilrain
- Joseph Fuqua as Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart
- Brian Mallon as Maj. Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock
- John Rothman as Maj. Gen. John F. Reynolds
- Donal Logue as Capt. Ellis Spear
- Richard Anderson as Maj. Gen. George Meade
- Maxwell Caulfield as Col. Strong Vincent