Screen:

Alleva, Richard

SCREEN IT'S ALL IN THE ACTING MAXWELL'S 'GETTYSBURG' G ettysburg was conceived as a television film for TNT, but Ted Turner and colleagues...

...I haven't read tains Lee's majesty through sheer concentration and imaginaShaara's Pulitzer Prize-winning book, but Maxwell has spo- tion...
...The period evoked here looks both distant from ours and yet COMMONWEAL a stepping stone toward ours...
...And so both destroy their fellow Americans...
...a soreheaded self-justifier...
...It is greatly to Maxwell's credit that he With the exception of Sam Elliott, who looks wonderfully could perceive that there was a Lee inside Sheen...
...Angelic actors...
...and-future university man seem at first to be the same sort of At any rate, in a few years Gettysburg will nicely survive callow academic Daniels played in Terms of Endearment...
...cation * Stephen L. Carter on Law * Robert Hoyt They are loading, aiming, ducking, and so forth...
...sounds like Michael J. Fox's...
...Shaara's theme, as announced by the title of his book and enAs Longstreet, Lee's second-in-command, Tom Berenger capsulated on screen in a speech made by Conway's Irish brings off the same sort of triumph Daniel Day-Lewis enjoys sergeant...
...The huge square beards and abundant moustaches that the officers sport cer- For nearly 70 years, COMMONWEAL has been shedding tainly give them the look of Mathew Brady portraits, but it's light with timely analysis, illuminating reflections, and unnerving to hear actors speak and not see their lips and jaws electrifying prose...
...More moments like these a baby face that defies old-age make-up, and a voice that upon in Gettysburg would have turned eight-hour-a-day movie ex- occasion (listen to him carefully if you don't believe me) tras into living individuals caught in the jaws of death...
...In this emphatic gestures, commanding silhouette, and subtle vocal in- movie, because of pungent dialogue and superb acting, we flections, Berenger's performance whispers itself into the feel the psychological complexity and moral goodness of these consciousness of the viewer...
...But the battles they fight (with the exception of Little As that unlikeliest but most likable of Union heroes, Colonel Round Table) lack the necessary, veracious savagery...
...This Christmas send a star that will arrive all year long: COMMONWEAL...
...Missing was the grim idiosyncrasy of violent demise, opher Lasch on Romantic Love * Judith Hershcopf what John Huston was after in The Red Badge of Courage when Banki on Catholics &Jews * Christopher Koller on he showed a mortally wounded youth groping for his specta- Health Care * Margaret O'Brien Steinfels on The cles in the dirt and succeeding in putting them back on just be- Laity * Don Wycliff on Race * Liz Leibold Mcfore flopping over dead...
...This reticence perfectly suits on the field of battle...
...Even if this performance were a failure, it would be an heroic one, the end of the line, we see a soldier reading a letter...
...Conway almost made me forget Mitchell...
...Only one battlefield moment in Closkey on Fetal Tissue * Chet Raymo on Science Gettysburg is comparable to that and you'll miss it if you blink...
...When asked by Longstreet if Pickett can capture an (Memberships arc tax deductible...
...He risks making the once- sion of The Killer Angels...
...They were partly a star...
...After a while, I began to Steinfels on Priests & Pedophilia * Daniel Callahan feel that I was looking at a sort of grisly recycling effort: the on Mortality * Lawrence Cunningham on the Catesame bodies going through the same deathly acrobatics over chism * Diogenes Allen on Iris Murdoch * Christand over...
...Pickett...
...Kenneth L. Woodward on Catholic Higher EduThe camera passes along a line of soldiers under sporadic fire...
...Here, whenever the bodies of Untener on 'Humanae vitae' * Chris Anderson on soldiers are thrown into the air by exploding mines or are knocked Forests & Streams * Jo McGowan on Mixed Marover by musket fire, they always seem to be taking the same riages * Elizabeth Beverly on Muriel Spark * Peter forward dive or sideways crumple...
...Angelic Little Round Top is the most exciting passage of arms in killers...
...Patrick Gorman lets us see the underlying decency of Full amount enclosed...
...right...
...I'm not a Civil War buff and can't attest to the movie's accuracy, but for me the feeling of historical oth- ,J Abbi erness, cinema's time machine capability, was well maintained...
...SCREEN IT'S ALL IN THE ACTING MAXWELL'S 'GETTYSBURG' G ettysburg was conceived as a television film for TNT, but Ted Turner and colleagues apparent- Send ly decided that this adaptation of Michael Shaara's The Killer Angels was impressive enough for the big screen...
...Dionne on Politics * Kenneth pened to them on the battlefield...
...soldiers...
...troops to face death...
...He atYet Gettysburg is cumulatively compelling...
...RICHARD ALLEVA 28: 19 November 1993 Commonweal...
...For me, the scene's excitement was chiefly sus1993 ASSOCIATE tained by Daniels communicating the young officer's amazeCOMMONWEAL ASSOCIATES ment at what is being demanded of him and his simultaneous 15 Dutch Street, New York, N.Y...
...It is impressive, but it is an anomaly among big-scale war movies...
...Though now in his early fifties, this actor still has exists with extreme danger in combat...
...Absorbing, moving in its intimate moments, Gettysburg is quite routine in its depiction of combat...
...Such a for Sheen had to do battle with his own inappropriate physical brief moment, yet it speaks eloquently of the boredom that co- equipment...
...preserve some of the depth of a good novel's characterizations Watch his almost maternal gestures as he receives the adulaand to give his actors opportunities to shine...
...But is perfect accuracy always desirable...
...impossible target, Lange reveals all the crazy gallantry of his Name character in one unforgettable smile of berserk joy...
...As a (presumably) fictional Irish sergeant, Kevin Conway has the same Address sort of role Thomas Mitchell used to do to perfection in the L---- Zip '30s and '40s...
...Only one or two beards that seemed in need of another coat of spirit gum jolted me back to the pres- FOR CHRISTMAS ent...
...But, toward David Carlin on Homosexuality * Plus: Screen Media * Stage * Art * Poetry * Fabulous Columnists & Shocking Editorials...
...Not with the thunder of cannons does this wants us to know: a man utterly without ferocity who nevermovie reverberate but with the voices of men in tents and mead- theless has the necessary ruthlessness to send his beloved ows lifted in argument, complaint, and condolence...
...Take advantage of our special Christmas rates by using the handy envelope provided in this issue...
...But Sheen doesn't fail...
...It's also clear that tion of his troops while reviewing them and the way he makes as a writer and directorr of dialogue scenes, Maxwell is much Lee appear crushed by so much love even as he returns their more incisive and self-demanding than he is as a film tactician blessings...
...With its precise employment of un- of life...
...Watch his eyes as he stares at, yet somehow beyond, his ken of it with reverence, and it's apparent that he has tried to officers, as if envisioning horrors looming up on the horizon...
...t1a or call 212-732-0800 "Eventually, of course, I'd like to direct...
...Sheen captures the essence of the Lee that Maxwell of carnage and glory...
...In smaller roles: Richard Jordan as Lewis Armistead, epitBenefactors $1.000 Charter $125 ome of Southern gallantry and sentiment, has an uphill strugSupporters $500 Sustaining $50 gle to make a long, meandering speech (expressing love for a Patrons $250 boyhood comrade turned foe) cohere...
...Director-writer Robert F. Maxwell's budget appears to have been well spent...
...Man is, as Hamlet would have it, "in reason...
...Like most good movies made for the tube, its real firees forth the mettle of the man...
...in action how like an angel," but he's a killer angel instead of reaching out to them...
...Then, transmigration to the medium for which it was originally inwhen circumstances put Chamberlain on the spot, Daniels flash- tended...
...shaggy as the prescient cavalry officer Buford but whose vocal That the moments of human intimacy in this movie are so delivery is ridiculous (one bark per sentence), all of the actors much finer than its battles somewhat skews what I take to be with substantial roles fulfill them...
...This year's galaxy of authors has included * ElizaBut no matter how much was spent on assembling these blue beth Johnson on God as She * Wilson Carey Mcand grey armies, the result isn't a unique vision of what hap- Williams & E.J...
...Commonweal 19 November 1993: 27 r , Gettysburg is only partly the result of its being Maxwell's best BECOME A martial stage...
...in facin The Age of Innocence: he makes the audience come to him ulties...
...Not particularly eye- I A filling, it nevertheless engages the mind and heart...
...The Union man fights for an ideal of the character of a man who always knows his own mind but liberty, the Confederate for his community and a beloved way doesn't always speak it...
...10039 resolve to measure up to the demand...
...move...
...So Chamberlain, that unlikeliest but most likable of leading men, there is more of the angelic than of the murderous in this verJeff Daniels, gambles and wins...
...J Finally, precariously, Martin Sheen as Robert E. Lee...
...That the repelled charge on works are in the acting rather than its visual design...
...Jordan gets to the top of the hill...
...One of America's best actors, Half enclosed...
...remind me of the balance Stephen Lange, has the surprisingly underwritten part of George in 6 months...

Vol. 120 • November 1993 • No. 20


 
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