Southern Illinoisan from Carbondale, Illinois on June 25, 1994 · Page 54
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Southern Illinoisan from Carbondale, Illinois · Page 54

Carbondale, Illinois
Issue Date:
Saturday, June 25, 1994
Page 54
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ENTERTAINMENT FEATURE 6The Civil War 6 Getty sbuir: captmre history 9 By Curtis Winston The Southern lllinoisan Civil War buffs will have their plates full this week as television remembers the bloody conflict. On PBS, Ken Burns acclaimed documentary "The Civil War" begins a broadcast run Sunday. And on cable's TNT, Ted Turner will roll out his epic film "Gettysburg" for a cable television premiere. WSIU-TV channel 8 will show "Civil War" Parts 1 through 5 at 7 p.m. each evening Sunday through Thursday. That takes viewers up through 1863's battle at Gettysburg and on into the siege at Petersburg in 1864. Part 1 of "Gettysburg" premieres at 7 p.m. Sunday on TNT and will conclude with Part 2 airing at 7 p.m. Monday. It will be featured again at 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday nights, commemorating the start of the three-day battle that began July 1, 1863 in Gettysburg, Pa. Those interested in the Civil War will have a tough time choosing what they want to watch. "The Civil War" is a classic documentary, highlighted by the insights of historian and author Shelby Foote. Garrison Keillor ("Walt Whitman") and Morgan Freeman ("Frederick Douglas") are just a couple of the celebrities who lend their voices to the reading of old letters that Burns uses to capture the history of the Civil War. Photographs and music of the time augment the fine production. "Gettysburg" is a classic in its own right. It's a beautifully produced film with vivid portrayals of the battle fought by 150,000 soldiers that inflicted 40,000 casualties. Like "The Civil War," music of the time is an integral part of the presentation. But where the documentary would use photographs and sound effects to convey the battle scene, "Gettysburg" takes things further with live action. Cannon and musket fire can be heard and felt; the smoke hangs in a haze over the battlefield. The only thing missing is the smell of the war. There are strong performances by an all-star cast. Tom Berenger ("Platoon") is fascinating to watch as Confederate Gen. James Longstreet. Berenger's southern accent combined with the beard and uniform lends much to the portrayal. Martin Sheen ("Apocalypse Now") is regal as the commander of the Army of Northern Virginia, Gen. Robert E. Lee. Appearing a bit stiff at first, Sheen's Lee really clicks in Part 2 of the movie when he scolds Gen. v " -A Martin Sheen stars at Gen. Robert E. Lee in 'Gettysburg being broadcast this week on TNT. Jeb Stuart for taking his calvary too far away from his army's lines. On the Union side, Jeff Daniels portrays one of the more remarkable officers of the war, Col. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain. It was Chamberlain, a theology professor who would later become the governor of Maine, who helped turn the battle around for the North by ordering a desperate bayonet charge on the second day. As far as war movies, "Gettysburg" is one of the best. Part 1, which includes a few light-hearted bits concerning Chamberlain and his brother (portrayed by C. Thomas Howell), covers the battle's first two days. Part 2 climaxes with a detailed portrayal of Pickett's charge. At times the movie takes on a music video-feel with extended scenes of battlefield action accompanied by the lush soundtrack. While "Gettysburg" might glamorize war at times (Don't all war movies do that?), Turner should be commended for the effort at capturing three of the most bloody and courageous days in American military history. The Civil War' and 'Baseball' are related LOS ANGELES (AP) "The Civil War" is being given an encore screening on PBS, and Ken Burns likes to quote what he has been told a day never goes by without his film appearing somewhere. "It's sort of like 'the sun never sets on the British Empire, " Burns says of the documentary, which joined the era's photographs with letters of the time to illuminate the nation's most tragic years. When his 11 -hour film appeared on PBS on five successive nights in September 1991, it proved a milestone for the network and a leap forward for all documentary makers. And also a boon to the country's history teachers. "The Civil War" begins another five-night stand on Sunday. It might be called a warmup for "Baseball," a whopping 18'2-hour Burns miniseries beginning Sept. 18 on PBS. Despite his youthful appearance, Ken Burns is a documentary veteran who won acclaim for his films about the Brooklyn Bridge, the Shakers, Huey Long, the Statue of Liberty and Thomas Hart Benton. Then "The Civil War" brought him celebrity status. He interrupted the editing of "Baseball" at his studio in Walpole, N.H., for a telephone interview. Q. You call "Baseball" a sequel to "The Civil War." How so? A. It's a history of the country that the Civil War made. Baseball is the metaphor. I've been interested in the Civil War and the question of who are we as a people. History is really the pursuit of that very personal question. There are many ways to deepen our appreciation of that question of who are we. One is by studying our political narrative, of which by far the Civil War is the most important event. The other is studying our social behavior. There are very few things that are a constant throughout our history. Baseball is one of them. Q. Hasn't "The Civil War" helped all documentary filmmakers? A. I think that it has. It has reminded people that: A, the documentary is not dead; B, that it is an art form, it doesn't merely have to be journalistic; C, that it doesn't have to be balanced. I think people assume, that balance means mediocrity. I think it's possible to drink in, in the case of "The Civil War," the tragic story of a complex American family and get to know Southerners as well as Northerners. Page 30 Saturday, June 25, 1994 The Southern IilinoIsanTV Week

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