What do movie critics understand about Gettysburg? More than you’d expect.

by 17thCVI on August 18, 2012 · 1 comment

This post is a little off the beaten path from the others in that it has no direct correlation to the 17th CVI. Well,  perhaps a little more than is first apparent. The title of this post will become obvious by the end. I know the answer, at least with respect to one critic, even if he is not aware of it himself.

Disclaimer – in the interests of full disclosure, the critic in question is my daughter’s boyfriend, a not-infrequent house guest, and (apologies in advance) fond of movies I generally don’t get the point of.

I’ll take the liberty of posting a portion of one piece about movie theaters visited by said critic, Michael Nordine. It was written in 2011, the visit to Gettysburg occurring in the summer of 2010  ( including the required pilgrimage to the 17th CVI monuments – the correlation to the 17th promised). Alas, the piece was only recently read by me:

Majestic Theater – Gettysburg, PA
Seen here: I Am Love


In what amounts to my year’s greatest disparity between location and film, my jaunt through Civil War Central ended with a movie about a Russian-born woman now living in Italy. (In my defense, I did watch Gettysburg on the 4th of July.) I was quite taken by certain aspects of the film—namely, the visuals and Tilda Swinton’s performance—less so with others, but what most stands out in memory is the town itself, not only for the exceptionally cool theater but for its main attraction: the battlefield. My knowledge (or lack thereof) of the Civil War is paper-thin, but it really doesn’t matter in the face of what may best be described as a sort of living museum. Gettysburg is compelling in that its vibrance comes due to (and not in spite of) its preservation of the dead; from its countless memorials to its nightly ghost walks, the town is alive with spirits. In a strange way, its muted hills and sky seem a fitting backdrop for the color-laden sights and sounds of the film I saw there: both celebrate life in the face of death.

Many of us visit Gettysburg on a regular basis, returning again and again to a place that seemingly does not change much from year to year.  I think Mike captures the essence of the place remarkably well. The soldiers who fought and died there, the survivors who made it the national shrine it has become, would appreciate it.

You can read more of Mike’s stuff at his site, michaelnordine.com.