Gettysburg (1993)

Genres - Epic, Historical Film  |   Sub-Genres - Historical Epic  |   Release Date - Oct 8, 1993 (USA)  |   Run Time - 244 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Review by Karl Williams

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.