Gettysburg (WHTM) In 1992 Hollywood came to Gettysburg. “The Killer Angels”, based on Michael Shaara’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about the battle of Gettysburg, starred a number of well-known actors, and quite literally a cast of thousands. Civil War reenactors came from all over the country to recreate the battle for the camera.
We were able to visit the set to see the backstage movie magic, like the transformation of an asphalt road into something more 19th century, and the elaborate makeup for the extras, if you want to call smearing dirt on your face elaborate.
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The film crew moved on to other locations, and then into post-production.
Then on October 8, 1993, the movie, now renamed “Gettysburg”, had its world premiere in – where else? Gettysburg.
On Friday, October 13, 2023, director Ron Maxwell, Stephen Lang, who played George Pickett, and Tom Berenger, who portrayed James Longstreet, returned to Gettysburg to share memories and perspectives as a part of a three-day celebration of the 30th Anniversary of the movie.
Ron Maxwell explained the name change was the idea of Ted Turner, who played a bit part in the movie and just happened to be the executive producer.
“He was absolutely right.” said Maxwell. “Who knows what the life of the film would have been if it had continued to be called Killer Angels. One thing we know for sure. If anybody in the world today, and I see the quarterly reports from Warner Brothers, of this movie, I know where it’s playing, in Poland, and Japan, in Chile, Argentina, and Canada, all over the world, millions are seeing this movie, because of streaming. And I think a lot fewer people would be seeing it if it was called Killer Angels. So once again, Ted was right.
Stephen Lang agreed. “And it’s fitting that the title of the film is Gettysburg, because Gettysburg is the star of the film. Not Longstreet, not Buford, not Chamberlain, not Pickett, Gettysburg is. “
Tom Berringer expressed a hope that the movie helps get people interested in the full range of American history.
“I would hope that it would give people up to know their American history, and I don’t mean just reading about the Civil War, just about Gettysburg, but about the Revolution as well”
Maxwell believes one reason the film is still popular is because it has an inner as well as outer realism.
“Yes we had to get the battle scenes right, of course we did. But it lived because it’s a window into the moral universe or the soulfulness of the generation that endured a cataclysm, the tragedy of the American Civil War.”
To learn more about the weekend celebration, click here.