Re: Reenactors and Films

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Posted by Champ on March 16, 1999 at 22:23:03:

In Reply to: Reenactors and Films posted by TKilbane on March 16, 1999 at 21:04:11:

: Hello Mr. Champ,

[No "Mr.", my rank is Cap'tn ;-) ]...

: 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!

>Yes, there are indeed "Cornfeds" on BOTH sides, though you wont find that in my unit, or the hardcores out there.
Unfortuantly, the days of Hollywood investing mega-amounts into costumes [etc] in "period pieces" is long past in the age of the Action flick. So until it happens, Hollywood will have to rely on the volunteers who own all period correct clothing & accouterments & work virtually for free...
And until the younger generation gets more involved, you will still see a percentage of older folks...[I have a few teenagers in my outfit, the average age of Morgan's Raiders was 16 to 25, & I myself am just turning the age of my historical persona at the time the war started -- 36 -- he was hung at wars end at age of 40]...
Incidently, my gggg-uncle in the 8th KY Cav [Morgan's Raiders] was in his 30's & my 1st cousin 5x removed in the 10th KY Cav [Morgan's Raiders] was 60! [possibly exceptions to the rule, but by no means unusual in the Confederacy,especially the Cavalry service]...

: 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 had pards who were there, & I'm told the emotions ran the gamut. Some were crying, some were practically giddy...
Most if not all would not intintialy screw-up the shot, I know this meant alot to them, charging over the same ground Pickett's men did [something that has not happened since the wars end].
From what I've heard from those that were there, no one was in control of their emotions, so the participants probably werent even aware of their actions [I know of people who laugh hysterically when nervous & dont mean to]...

: 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),

>First off, I dont know any reenactors as Ken Burns describes, second, I dont think much of Burn's revisionist brand of history.

: 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.

>You didnt see "Frontiers" on the History channel, did you?
Check out the Roger's Rangers episode & tell me how many *fat* Rangers you see...

Okay, I dont get it, first you "applaud" the reenactors, then you put them down [or was this just sarcasm on your part in the beginning?]...
Considering that none of the films you mentioned above would have been made in todays budget constraints without the aid of reenactors, you sure do seem to be down on them.
If you see a problem, why dont you be part of the solution.
Donate your lifes savings to the next costume epic, so that only lean - mean extras will be hired.
Or better yet, I'd challenge ya' to step up to the plate, put on that wool uniform & brogans, and march in the Mississippi o/r Tennessee heat of summer [with shell jacket & gear strapped on top of it] at a campaign event. You might, at the very least, gain some new found respect for reenactors...
As for me, I'll be the one galloping by you webfeet, kicking up dust in your faces ;-)

[If ya' want a good time jine the cavalry!...]

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