Re: Reenactors and Films

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Posted by TKilbane on March 16, 1999 at 23:34:22:

In Reply to: Re: Reenactors and Films posted by Champ on March 16, 1999 at 22:23:03:

Hello Mr. Champ,

: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..

I agree the days of Spartacus and Waterloo are over; but what you say is not entirely true. Braveheart and Saving Private Ryan used men from the Irish national guard to fill out many scenes. All those fair skinned, young men in the military haircuts that you see in the scenes following Omaha Beach are not reenactors.

: >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]...

Gettysburg is THE reenactor movie! Virtually all the scenes are dominated by reenactors wheras in other movies such as Glory and Last of the Mohicans reenactors were used to fill out scenes but the closeup combat parts were done by professional stunt men and extras which is why the seams of Gettysburg are so obvious. I think it is more amusing than annoying. I love Gettysburg but when I saw it on the big screen it was rather odd to see 95% of the soldiers looking in one direction and then you see the other 5% looking right at you. It's funny!

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

I did not think Burns was much of a revivisionist. And his documentary, sans reenactors, was immensely moving with just the use of photographs, paintings, and battlefield landscapes.

: 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?]...

No sarcasm. I truly love everyone of those films. And I truly believe that some of them would not have been made without the reenactors. I am just making observations that the use of reenactors has it drawbacks. Most of them rather amusing. Reenactors spend a ton of money and alot of time on trying to look as historically accurate as possible; but no matter how authentic the buttons on your jacket are it does not hide the fact that the soldiers you are attempting to portray were young and thin and many reenactors do not fit that bill.

: 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 ;-)

Well, I certainly do detect a tone of sarcasm here : ) I was just having a little fun and making what I believe to be some humorous observations about the limitations of reenactors in truly portraying the warriors of the past and their ability as actors. Watch these movies as often as I have and you are going to notice some glitches. Some are more obvious than others- such as fat men playing starving Johnnies.

As for your challenge to hump a pack, march in humidity at a rugged "campaign" event, and gain respect for men and women who are of a special merit. Well, I have done all that. But not at some pretend, play-acting camp; but for real with the men and women of the United States Marine Corps. Of course, we did not have cavalrymen kicking up dust in our faces : )

Happy St. Patricks Day!

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