And we continue with this series of 47 moments in film that I love. (Why 47?) I am almost not 47 anymore, so I should really get these done. This is number #44, and for this one we stick with a movie that’s set in the same era as last time.
Directed by Ronald F. Maxwell
A decisive battle in the American Civil War is played out on the fields of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, as the Confederate troops mount a powerful attack into Union territory.
The Set Up
A battered regiment under the command of Colonel Joshua Chamberlain from Maine is assigned to defend against any Confederate advance upon Little Round Top. He is warned specifically that his team is the flank, and that if they fail, the enemy will be able to get around the entire Union army and bring defeat to the whole defense that is being mounted there.
After prolonged and brilliant defense by Colonel Chamberlain’s regiment, which includes a whole bunch of soldiers who had previously resigned in protest, are weary and running out of ammunition. The Confederates are also suffering heavily in the battle, but preparing for another charge against Chamberlain’s weakening defenses. In desperate determination, Chamberlain orders his men to fix bayonets to their rifles and to charge the enemy. The move is so bold and so gutsy that the Union troops are able to startle the enemy into surrendering. Later, one soldier says to Chamberlain that he’s holding these prisoners with an unloaded weapon. Chamberlain replies not to tell them that.
Gettysburg is not a perfect movie by any means, but it’s an engaging look at the epic battle which could rightfully be said to have turned the tide of the American Civil War. The story of Joshua Chamberlain, played ably by Jeff Daniels, is the most immersive part of the story. Jeff Daniels is a low-key but likeable actor who is able to draw attention and command respect of the viewer in much the same way that Chamberlain does his soldiers, and this moment of victory is genuinely exciting.
After this hard-earned victory, Chamberlain and his crew are put into a less intense position on the battlefield, only to find themselves under unexpected heavy bombardment of canon fire. Chamberlain survives, however, and goes on to be the governor of Maine.