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"Civil War & Pop Culture: ôLike I said, the war was rough" Topic

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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP22 Jan 2021 2:50 p.m. PST

…through here." Thoughts on the film Pharaoh's Army

"Before 2012's Lincoln, I used to say the big three Civil War movies were Gone with the Wind (1939), Glory (1989), and Gettysburg (1993), or the three Gs (Birth of a Nation is important for history and the evolution of filmmaking but very few watch it for entertainment). It is in some ways a curious statement. Gettysburg was a critical hit, but not a big money maker, at least in theaters. To be fair, it was also meant for television more than the silver screen. Glory's dirty little secret is that it was a financial flop. It hardly made back its budget, but it did find its audience on cable. Gone with the Wind is one of the biggest hits of all time and a cultural and technical milestone. The other films lie in its shadow.

What interests me is how each mirrors the three dominant narratives of the Civil War. Glory and Lincoln are firmly in the Just Cause tradition of a righteous North liberating slaves and crushing a treasonous rebellion. Gone with the Wind is an avatar of the Lost Cause, while Gettysburg is about reunification through mutual bravery. None of them is a perfect distillation of those narratives. Glory and Lincoln were accused then and now of focusing too much on the actions of noble whites. Each does not shy away from showing Northern racism. Gone with the Wind laments the loss of the Old South but through Rhett Butler also condemns it as an out-dated and arrogant society doomed to lose a war they had no business fighting. That said, I do think Gettysburg is pretty spot on as a distillation of the reunification narrative, and maybe that is why it was my favorite Civil War movie for many years. It was the narrative I held to until recently…."
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