Top 25 Countdown — No. 9


Today I continue my countdown with my favorite war movie (and one of my favorite novels) of all time.

No. 9 — Gettysburg (1993)
Starring: Martin Sheen, Tom Berenger, Jeff Daniels, Sam Elliott, and Stephen Lang
Director: Ronald F. Maxwell
Quote: "All of us volunteered to fight for the Union, just as you have. Some came mainly because we were bored at home, thought this looked like it might be fun. Some came because we were ashamed not to. Many of us came because it was the right thing to do. And all of us have seen men die. This is a different kind of army. If you look back through history you will see men fighting for pay, for women, for some other kind of loot. They fight for land, power, because a king leads them, or just because they like killing. But we are here for something new, this has not happened much, in the history of the world. We are an army out to set other men free. America should be free ground, all of it, not divided by a line between slave states and free - all the way from here to the Pacific Ocean. No man has to bow. No man born to royalty. Here we judge you by what you do, not by who your father was. Here you can be something. Here is the place to build a home. But it's not the land, there's always more land. It's the idea that we all have value - you and me. What we are fighting for, in the end, we're fighting for each other." — Lt. Col. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain
About: One of the beautiful things about going through this countdown is that it's been a great way for me to sink into these movies I love. It's also told me a lot about how movies made a mark on me. I was born in 1981, so culturally I'm a child of the 1990s. And there are a lot of 1990s films on this list, because that was a time when seeing movies shaped my passion and how I saw the world. "Gettysburg" is one of those movies. It's four and a half hours long, and it played as a mini-series on TNT. I remember when I first saw it, and how I fell in love with it. And I've seen it many times since. The Civil War is my favorite historical period to study, and Lt. Col. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, played here by the great Jeff Daniels, is probably my favorite historical figure. And all that really took root when I saw this movie. "Gettysburg" is an incredibly faithful depiction of the battle that was the turning point in the Civil War. But more than that, it's a picture of men on both sides, why they fought, and what made it so personal. I love the speeches, the sequences, and the way this story is told. It's filmed on location, features the largest group of re-enactors ever, and you can really feel the passion for authenticity that Maxwell, the director, brought to the project. I also love the novel, "The Killer Angels" by Michael Sharra, which is the source for much of the rich dialogue in this film. The performances are great, too. For many years, my Fourth of July tradition was to start "Gettysburg" and watch it over the course of four days as the battle played out. Nerdy, I know, but that just outlines my level of passion for this film.
Rating: PG for language and epic battle scenes.

Top 25 Countdown
10. Up In The Air (2009)
11. Die Hard (1988)
12. Doubt (2008)
13. Way of the Gun (2000)
14. Heat (1995)
15. The Paper (1994)
16. Watchmen (2009)
17. LA Confidential (1997)
18. Serenity (2005)
19. Children of Men (2006)
20. Miller's Crossing (1990)
21. About Schmidt (2002)
22. Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
23. The Matrix (1999)
24. Independence Day (1996)
25. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

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