Nothing can ever be 100% accurate once creative license is taken into account, but the film Gettysburg gets as close to accurate as they come. Critics may argue over small incorrect details, but lets remind ourselves that the film is based off of a novel based off of historical events.
Filmed on location at the Gettysburg National Military Park, the actual battlefields that were fought on 150 years ago are fought on in the film. The scenes that were not filmed on location at the park, were filmed a few miles down the road on a large farm, still providing the audience with an accurate landscape of Gettysburg, not a sound stage 3,000 miles away from the actual location. Attention to detail on the casting played a major role in the authenticity of the film.
Military strategy and tactics for both the Union and Confederate armies are accurately depicted as are the command orders. The motivation of both sides and individual leadership are also well portrayed. The film also featured over 5,000 Civil War reenactors who supplied their own props and costumes.
Although the film was originally produced for a cable TV network, with a PG rating, the battle scenes are accurate minus the bloody carnage. To show the acutal brutality of Pickett’s Charge the rating would of had to be higher than PG.
The film was well received among scholars, historians and film critics. It stands outside of the cliche “war movie” genre. It is plain and simple and straight forward about the battle. There are no love scenes, no romance, there isn’t even a woman casted in the film. Even though it may not cover every minute of every battle at Gettysburg, the attention to detail it does provide to the battles illustrated in the film is excellent.
Gallagher, Gary W. “The Practice of American History: A Special Issue.” Journal of American History, 1994: 1398-1400.
Hinson, Hal. “Gettysburg: Battle Fatigued.” The Washington Post, October 8, 1993: D6.
Holden, Stephen. “When War was all Glory and Bands and Death.” The New York Times, October 8, 1993: C16.