HOME   News   Reviews   Adv Search   Features   My DVD   About   Apps   Stats     Search:
  Directed by
  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer ( )
  • Dual Sided
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.0 Surround
  • French: Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono
    English, French
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Audio commentary
  • Cast/crew biographies
  • TV spot
  • 2 Documentaries - 1 recent, 1 vintage
  • Filmographies


Warner Bros./Warner Home Video . R4 . COLOR . 254 mins . PG . NTSC


Hailed as one of the greatest films about the American Civil War, Gettysburg is over four hours of live action documentary on the heroes, the mistakes and the bravery that turned the tide of the war in favour of the North in the war between the States. Based on the Pulitzer Prize winning novel The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara, this is a sweeping epic that spans the four days of the bloodiest battle ever fought on American soil.

"We will charge valiantly and we will be butchered, valiantly!"

Acting performances are top notch and we witness the internal conflict of officers and soldiers on both sides as they struggle to come to terms with fighting themselves to build a united nation and free the slaves. Tom Berenger, Sam Elliott and Martin Sheen give fantastic performances, but the real turn out is Jeff Daniels in the role of a Northern colonel fresh from Westpoint who is thrown into the deep end of war. From him we get a feeling of futility and of confusion, but we also learn the motivations of the war and its consequences on the ordinary man as relatively peaceful lives are chaotically changed forever.

This film runs for a massive four and a quarter hours, but is no less rivetting for its length. If it has a failing, it is that it plays down the horror of war, sterilising it and thereby losing some of its impact as both an anti-statement about war and a social commentary still relevant today. The excellent cast play their roles magnificently and with an honesty necessary to portray both the heroes and villains of this defining moment in the history of America.

Meticulous research and attention to detail create the era perfectly. The actual battle area of Gettysburg is used as the setting for authenticity and costumes have been recreated from old photographs and documentation of the time. This is a quality offering and one that has been well financed and well produced to create a lasting document of history, of the time and of the Civil War itself.


Presented only in NTSC and being a double-sided disc, rather than a two-disc set, it hasn’t been clearly labelled as to which side is which. When I finally saw the ‘A Side’ wording, I inserted that side down, but then learned that that side should have been up because Part Two started. That could have been made clearer for a start. Or maybe I'm just stoopid. Both sides have been transferred in the 16:9 format of their 1.85:1 original aspect ratio and this makes for a magnificent series of images on the screen, fully putting us in the thick of the action. The number of film artefacts are limited, giving us a consistently beautiful clean picture. The only trouble is that some of the blacks are quite grainy and a deeper blue/grey. As there aren’t a great deal of night shots, this is passable, but a further attention to detail in the transfer wouldn’t have hurt. Flesh tones and colour are all okay for the most part, but colours aren’t that bright to begin with, being an epic of war, and so the film does tend to get bogged down under lots of earthy colours from time to time. I also detected very few instances of aliasing or compression problems throughout the entirety of the piece.


The audio has been digitally remastered in Dolby Digital 5.0 and sounds just super. With big cannons going off and gunfire at 80 rounds per minute it still never gets cluttered or overshadows the dialogue. A lot of this piece is strategies and dialogue, so this is important, although there are instances where two officers will be discussing plans, they’ll cut away to gunfire nearby then back to the talkers, but no gunfire will follow them. To wit: no background sound effects in parts. That’s okay for the conversation bits, but continuity should be adhered to a little if interspersing with action shots of battle. It doesn’t happen a lot, but obviously, it’s noticeable.

Other than that, the dialogue is all clear and well understood. There are a few ‘dying man with accent’ bits you might need to replay once or twice, but for the most part it’s all clear. Music too has been well handled, supporting the actors and the action, and creating the varying moods well. All levels are well balanced, with no cluttering of music, dialogue or sound effects.


A veritable plethora of Civil War notes of interest as well as film-related stuff are included. Side A contains a Vintage Documentary of The Battle of Gettysburg, narrated by Leslie Nielsen (of all people) and nominated for an Oscar in 1955. This is interesting at first, but runs for half an hour and covers exactly what the whole film is about, thereby making it a little redundant. It also features location shoots, but no actors; rather, just shots of various statues that dot the landscape of Gettysburg. There are also a few Cast/Crew Lists with brief bios, but they're effectively illegible at the size of the font used. I used the zoom key and it didn’t work. Sigh.

Side B, however, contains a few better extras. There is a very nice Documentary on The Making of Gettysburg which is incredibly interesting and is narrated by Martin Sheen. It is also filled to brimming with interviews of many ‘re-enactors’ of the civil war, to whom participating in this was like their Graceland or something. There's also the usual swag of TV Spots and Theatrical Trailer plus four dudes (including the director/screenwriter Ronald F. Maxwell) speaking on the Audio Commentary. Some nice insights are given during this last, but it is a little rehashed from the 'Making Of'. Lastly, the Battle Maps of the whole thing are available to scroll through as well. A nice package for those interested in learning more about this major historical event, or just those wishing to know more about the film in general.


There can be no mistake that this is a major piece of work and one well worth visiting for a look. With factual accounts, painstaking research and outfitting it is an amazingly co-ordinated film of epic proportion. Fantastic performances from all participants make this film easily one of the better war films ever made, and one that everyone in the family can watch with its limited use of gore. Considering America’s position in the world today, it provides an all too real portrait of this crucial turning point in its history, when the battle between the states was won and lost. Compelling viewing.

  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=2539
  • Send to a friend.

    Cast your vote here: You must enable cookies to vote.
      And I quote...
    "The Civil War’s defining battle thoroughly documented with no stone unturned."
    - Jules Faber
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Nintaus DVD-N9901
    • TV:
          Sony 51cm
    • Receiver:
    • Speakers:
    • Surrounds:
          No Name
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
      Recent Reviews:
    by Jules Faber

    Narrow Margin
    "Gene Hackman as an action star? It happened… "

    A King in New York: SE
    "Taking a poke at too many demons makes this film a little stilted and not among his best works"

    A Zed and Two Noughts
    "Is it art or is it pornography? Who cares? Both are good."

    Blake's 7 - The Complete Series One
    "Performances are fine, but the flimsy sets, the crappy props and the undisguisable late 70s hairdos are just too much."

    Heavens Above
    "While not amongst some of Sellers’ more confident roles, this one is still up there amidst the more subtle of them…"

      Related Links
      None listed


    Search for Title/Actor/Director:
    Google Web dvd.net.au
       Copyright © DVDnet. All rights reserved. Site Design by RED 5