Reenactors and Films

[ Follow Ups ] [ Post Followup ] [ Mohican WWWboard ] [ FAQ ]

Posted by TKilbane on March 16, 1999 at 21:04:11:

In Reply to: Re: Daniel Day-Lewis, boxing, and a record falls posted by Champ on March 16, 1999 at 02:57:04:

Hello Mr. Champ,

Thank you for your response. I read some of your older posts and I can see that you are really into creating "living history." I really appreciate the efforts of reenactors when they are used in films. They bring enthusiasm, a wealth of knowledge on uniforms, weapons, formations, and, most importantly, they work on the cheap or even for free. Without their efforts many of my favorite films of the last decade probably would not have been made. Films such as "Son of the Morning Star," "Glory," "Last of the Mohicans," "Gettysburg," and "Geronimo" all benefited from the presence of reenactors.

Yet when I watch "Gettysburg" or a documentary on the History Channel I cannot help wonder: was the average age of the soldiers from the past around 40 years and did past armies boast such a "hefty" percentage of rotund warriors? The biggest historical fallacy in "Gettysburg" was not a costume quibble, nor an actor's faulty characterization of a revered commander, nor an incorrect fact to the historical record; but the sight of those chubby Rebs! Can you imagine a soldier in the Confederate Army in 1863 looking so well-fed and well-rested that his uniform is literally busting from the seams? I do not believe that would be possible. I mean some of these guys look like they would have trouble walking up a couple flights of stairs; let alone march 15-20 miles with a fifty pound pack on a humid July day. Other things I love about the reeanctors in "Gettysburg:" when they look straight into the camera, when they are seen smiling "advancing" through a swath of minie balls and cannister, and the "deaths" of those fat guys! I mean when we see these guys being "hit" and start to fall to the ground; it looks more like they about to begin a set of very slow and painful pushups rather than falling to the ground after being struck by a .58 caliber minie ball. In "Son of the Morning Star" my heart went out to the poor horse that had to mount that rather rotund and elderly sergeant.

Sometimes, when I see these "overweight folks running across fields in Reeboks" (Ken Burns description of reenactors whose services he declined to use for his PBS special), I long for those days when movie producers would rent out the Spanish Army (Spartacus, Patton, Battle of the Bulge) or the current trend of renting out the Irish version of the national guard (Braveheart and Saving Private Ryan). The result is that you get Hollywood soldiers who look like real soldiers. Armies have never been stocked with overweight, middle-aged men despite what I see on the History Channel every week.

Follow Ups:

Post a Followup

Name    : 
E-Mail  : 
Subject : 
Comments: Optional Link URL: Link Title: Optional Image URL:

[ Follow Ups ] [ Post Followup ] [ Mohican WWWboard ] [ FAQ ]