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"A Teacher's Guide to Civil War Movies" Topic

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Tango0119 Apr 2022 8:02 p.m. PST

Of possible interest?



doc mcb20 Apr 2022 8:11 a.m. PST


35thOVI Supporting Member of TMP20 Apr 2022 8:50 a.m. PST

North and South2 had some decent battle scenes. Soap opera though. I and many of my friends were in the battle scenes. The Petersburg entrenchments were full scale and very well done. For some reason they completely cut the Five Forks battle out of the film. If you check out first Bill Run you will see some of the reenactors wearing the early uniforms of their unit. It was a hot Miserable filming, with fire ants everywhere you fell and yellow jackets constantly at meals. Filmed from 4am till dark.

rmaker20 Apr 2022 10:19 a.m. PST

Birth of a Nation? Why?

0ldYeller20 Apr 2022 10:25 a.m. PST

Glory is rated "R"?

Further Glory is not a "fictionalized" account – much of the movie is based on fact from the book "A Brave Black Regiment".

While Gettysburg was good, God's and Generals was terrible – hence why Ted Turner's "trilogy" was never completed.

How about "The Horsemen" or even "The Good The Bad and The Ugly" (depiction of the Civil War in the west).

Let the debate rage on.

Dave Woodchuck20 Apr 2022 12:33 p.m. PST

Pretty sure Glory got the R for gore in the Fredericksburg scene. Maybe a couple other things. Made today, I doubt it would get an R rating, though it would likely get a good old dose of angst and extra drama.

With proper editing, there's a great 45 minute movie hiding in Gods and Generals.

Bill N20 Apr 2022 1:12 p.m. PST

I term "fictionalized account" might seem harsh for Glory, given that it was far more accurate than many movies based on historical events. As I recall though Glory had more than enough exaggerations and fabrications.

Grelber20 Apr 2022 1:48 p.m. PST

While I enjoyed watching Gone with the Wind, there is a certain amount of historical fantasy there.


35thOVI Supporting Member of TMP20 Apr 2022 2:00 p.m. PST

Glory had the Antietam scene at the beginning. My buddies got Camera time in the scene. I believe the R was because they used the N' word. I think Gods and Generals had Fredericksburg.

Glory was by far the best Civil war movie and I am sorry I turned down the role of an extra in it. I tell everyone it was between me and Denzel Washington for the same part, and I wouldn't shave my head. 😉

Tango0120 Apr 2022 2:19 p.m. PST

Many thanks!


42flanker21 Apr 2022 12:28 a.m. PST

"The Horsemen"

"The Horse soldiers"?

While we're about it, "Alvarez Kelly," "Major Dundee" and "The Undefeated."

Ah, "grades 7-12." Perhaps not…

Stryderg21 Apr 2022 4:40 a.m. PST

Birth of a Nation? Why?
For historical perspective, maybe? Somebody wrote it and filmed it. So somebody probably thought it was a good idea.

0ldYeller21 Apr 2022 7:36 a.m. PST

42 Flanker – thanks for the correction on "The Horse Soldiers", getting old. Also "Escape From Fort Bravo".

The theatrical cut of Glory had an R rating because of the "gore and violence" – the opening Antietam scene (head shot) – there is a PG version they show in schools. Jeez, I remember in Grade 6 we watched Culloden and The War Game (both by Peter Watkins) – I did not seem to suffer any permanent damage, except for now forgetting the names of some movies.

HMS Exeter21 Apr 2022 10:58 a.m. PST

I can't imagine any school system, red or blue, authorizing the use of any non approved media material for classroom use, on any topic. All hail the blessed curriculum.

For that matter I can't imagine any school system approving any commercially produced civil war motion picture media for class use, up to, and including, Ken Burns Civil War. As highly regarded as it was for its' time, in light of current sensibilities, it has not aged particularly well.

Private schools might be more flexible on this, but it's a potential hornet's nest in any context.

"Slavery was bad, class. People who supported it were bad. They fought a civil war to preserve it. The civil war was bad. Slavery ended. Now let's move on to the Industrial Revolution, mmkay? No, boys and girls, we won't be taking questions on the civil war module. And moving on…"

doc mcb21 Apr 2022 11:01 a.m. PST

HMS, that did not used to be true, but it might be more so, today, regretfully. At least for the private schools I used to teach in.

35thOVI Supporting Member of TMP21 Apr 2022 11:06 a.m. PST

Yes violence contributed to "Glory" R rating, but as stated the use in the movies many times of the "N" word contributed as well, although at the time, it was still allowed to be used in movies where appropriate. I do not watch it on TV, have it on disc. Do they cut the words out of the dialogue now, like "Blazing Saddle"? If so, what a shame. How could you show it uncut, in todays schools?
Some dialogue:

Subject: Glory (1989) – Morgan Freeman as Sgt. Maj. John Rawlins – IMDb


Col Durnford21 Apr 2022 1:31 p.m. PST

My daughter graduated high school in 2000. She said that if she had to watch Glory one more time she would drop out.

Good movie, but overplayed in her school.

Murvihill21 Apr 2022 1:31 p.m. PST

Birth of a Nation is a controversial choice. It was technically a brilliant and forward thinking movie (for example, they took famous paintings and pictures and replicated them in scenes). On the other hand there's the whole KKK recruiting angle. I would absolutely not show it before high school, and be hesitant to show it in high school simply because it would be impossible to have a civil conversation about it.

0ldYeller21 Apr 2022 1:49 p.m. PST

35thOVI Glory may have kept the R rating in recent years because of that word as the violence is rather tame by today's standards but I do not think it's original R rating was because of the use of that word. I have a lot of trouble understanding the new rules To Kill a Mockingbird is banned but I can watch Snowfall (a series that I think is great) on FX on TV every Wednesday night that repeatedly uses that word only warning is violence and course language. I will go back trying to figure out the rules to cricket would seem easier.

35thOVI Supporting Member of TMP21 Apr 2022 2:42 p.m. PST

OldYeller I don't understand either. Still wish I had not rejected being an extra as a Union soldier. All my buddies who did go were in the Antietam scene at the beginning.

HMS Exeter21 Apr 2022 6:04 p.m. PST

Someone once tried to recruit me into the Maryland Confederate Artillery reenactment group. After considering for a fairly short period I responded.

"Let's see if I have this straight. I'm going to be buying period reproduction clothes mostly made of wool, driving usually 1 state away, wearing said wool clothes outside in July and August, in the heat, and sleeping on the ground by a camp fire, with the bugs, and maybe a Porta potty, and eating dough fried in bacon grease with tepid water?"

"That's about right. I know it sounds bad, but it's normally quite enjoyable…

…unless, of course, it rains."


Grattan54 Supporting Member of TMP21 Apr 2022 6:19 p.m. PST

Old Yeller, who says the N word in Snowfall whites or blacks? Because it is still okay if Blacks say it.

35thOVI Supporting Member of TMP22 Apr 2022 7:49 a.m. PST


I enjoyed a lot in my 20's and 30's, did not notice the heat then, below freezing cold, sleeping on the ground and rain in temperatures below 50 were worse. After 40, started to feel it. At 50, I stopped sleeping outside and the group had switched to living history.

But I would not trade it. I got to experience a lot of the things I had only read about in the experiences of the soldiers. I just did not have to worry about being shot. I could appreciate the misery they had to Endure daily, (heat, rain, cold, drill, bugs, dirt). But also the Camaraderie of those I was with. Some of my best friends were in those groups. It got me in movies, on TV. It allowed me to sleep on most of the major and minor Civil War Parks and present the soldiers life to thousands of people. I got to see at least 20,000 Reenactors in some of the 125th and 130th anniversary battles. Hear and see massed Volleys of muskets. Hear and see over 100 field pieces firing. See over 100 Cavalry per side charge and clash. There were bad times and I have seen people severely injured in filming and re-enactments. "North and South 2", was the worst for injuries. But would not trade the experiences.

Tortorella Supporting Member of TMP22 Apr 2022 10:08 a.m. PST

I don't think I would show many of these movies to kids. Where are the Marvel superheroes? Lincoln and Glory interest me the most, but I don't count. Gettysburg was great to look at, and Chamberlain finally got his due, but there is not much there for curriculum help.

The Horse Soldiers! Saw it in a drive in! Wayne is his usually self. Someday Grierson's feat should get an updated treatment.

Birth of aNation is for film students and social historians. Imagine the kids not hearing movie sounds!

35thOVI Supporting Member of TMP22 Apr 2022 10:17 a.m. PST

Interesting Tort, had the chance to be an extra in Gettysburg too. Turned it down. After what Turner did to the extras money wise, I never regretted it. Movie was fine, it all had to do with Ted Turner.

Tortorella Supporting Member of TMP22 Apr 2022 12:48 p.m. PST

Very cool! You are a re-enactor? I have been there many times, very moving. I have seen the movie a number of times as well. Too bad they did not appreciate the people who put so much into keeping history alive.

35thOVI Supporting Member of TMP22 Apr 2022 1:46 p.m. PST

The way I understand it, Turner was supposed to donate the money he would have paid the reenactors to battlefield preservation instead. Our average per day was $50. USD He at times had 3000 working the battle scenes, maybe more. I was told he only donated the equivalent of paying 3000 reenactors for 1 day. Some were there for weeks. Anyone else who was there can correct me. But that is what those who went told me. Basically donated 150000.

0ldYeller25 Apr 2022 8:22 a.m. PST

It was all Jane's fault.

35thOVI Supporting Member of TMP25 Apr 2022 8:43 a.m. PST

I am sure things went downhill once she posed, sitting on a Confederate 12 pounder. 😉

Tortorella Supporting Member of TMP26 Apr 2022 1:40 a.m. PST

Here is an article in some detail about the making of the film, written by someone born and raised there, including some of the reenactor issues. It is Jane-free so you can read it without cringing.

Interesting how someone who lived there sees the commercialization of the battleand the Hollywood treatment, but it does reference the re-enactors situation.


35thOVI Supporting Member of TMP26 Apr 2022 5:01 a.m. PST

Tort I had read this before, I remember this guy had a somewhat low opinion of reenactors. My only information about what happened there, came from others. No first hand information, other than a letter the group received. Thanks

I always thought the movie ok, but not great by any standards.

My first hand.

For us, our first movie was "The Blue and the Grey". Group got a letter asking if we wanted to take part in the filming. We were offered $50 USD a day. Nothing else. We had all the period uniforms and weapons, much more accurate than anything Hollywood had. We took vacation time to go. Drove at our own costs. Filming was in Prairie Grove, Arkansas. It was fall, so weather good. Shooting was fun. We shot pretty much always in the same area. Food was good and we meant the major actors and talked with a few. Movie was forced to use Union workers for close ups. We were distant shots. Union extras uniforms were bad, some carrying rubber rifles. So fun to shot, bad mini series, and never saw ourselves on film.

We were next contacted to make the battle sequences of "The North and South 2". This to be shot in Natchez, Mississippi. Again $50 USD a day. Shot on somebody's ranch. They had hired somewhere over 3000 reenactors. For the first 4 days it was Miserable. Heat was bad. The ranch was covered in fire ant mounds. You would see a guy become a casualty and jump up seconds later with fire ants all over him. They told us to tie our ramrods in, they did not want us loading and firing off a ramrod. BUT they wanted us with fixed bayonets, even for the close ups. 🤣 Meals we're bad, by the time my group got there, there might be some lime jello left and we had to fight yellow jackets to get it. They were as bad as the fire ants. People were hurt all over. Safety didn't work well with that many men. At the shooting of Five Forks, they planted ground charges everywhere. Tiny flags marking them. After a few thousand March through and a few blown up, the flags disappeared. I was in the rear. Well one went off underneath me. I was covered in everything and had cork, dirt and other things all in my eyes. So rushed off to an ambulance. While treating me, they replanted the charges. Well they nailed another guy at about the same spot, so had to move over while they treated him for the same thing. On the last two days my group became specialist. We were to carry the long planks that were to be used to bridge the trench in front of the Petersburg entrenchments to allow Union troops to cross and scale the entrenchments. We received special pay, $75 USD a day. We had to dive into the trench and set the planks. Now while shooting those scenes, two of the guys at the front of the plank, (not my group), were knocked out by the butt plates of the guys trying to run across the planks and keep their balance. Interesting to see men knocked out by rifle butts. They go down like a sack of potatoes. While resting there between shots, I saw a Union soldier leaning against the entrenchment at the top of the Confederate side. With 1000's of rides going off, you can't always tell if yours has fired. I am sure you have read about it in history books. Anyway, he got careless and leaned there with his musket leaning up between his shoulder and toward his face. It finally fired. All the black powder burning into his face and eyes. Not good. 😞 Heard another Union soldier fell off the planks into the trench and broke his back. Heard about a lot of other injuries, but did not see them.

Fun part of the last 4 days was being able to meet the 4 male leads. My group even got to sit around during one break and shoot the sh#t with Patrick Swayze, while he drank a Diet Coke. He was the most Accessible, actor I ever ran into. Very nice.

There is much I have left out. But other than the pay on set, we received nothing else. Also drained vacation time. So you can understand why I turned down "Glory". The whole group declined "Gettysburg". We were told no pay and money was supposed to go to battlefield preservation. But that was not the issue. Most of us did not care for Ted Turner. Plus we had around 5 or 6 Vietnam veterans in the group. They could not stand "Hanoi" Jane.

But again it was my choice to do them and it was a once in a lifetime experience.

Tortorella Supporting Member of TMP16 May 2022 10:47 a.m. PST

Great stuff 35th! I missed this wile I was on vacation. Clearly a labor of love, but also memorable. Well done!

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