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The Civil War Movies & TV

Glory (1989)

Arguably the best movie made about the Civil War, Glory stars Matthew Broderick as Union General Robert Gould Shaw, and Denzel Washington and Morgan Freeman as members of the all-black 54th Massachusetts Infantry. The film's screenplay is based largely on the letters of the regiment's white captain, Robert Gould Shaw, and, although at times historically inaccurate, it offers a compelling view of the African-American experience on the Civil War battlefield.

The Civil War: A Film by Ken Burns (1990)

An eleven-part miniseries that first aired on PBS in 1990, The Civil War is the most complete and moving documentary retelling of the war to date. Burns uses still photos and firsthand accounts of those who lived through the war to narrate this story.

Gettysburg (1993)

Based on Michael Shaara's The Killer Angels, this is one of the longest films ever released by a Hollywood studio at 4 hours, 15 minutes. Despite its length, it is intensely engaging and does an excellent job of recreating the famous battle of Gettysburg. Plus, the portrayal of Pickett's Charge is one of the most impressive war sequences in any movie.

Gone With the Wind (1939)

Based on the best-selling novel by Georgia-born author Margaret Matchell, this hit Hollywood romance about the American South during and after the Civil War did a great deal to shape twentieth-century attitudes about race and the legacies of slavery, the war, and Radical Reconstruction. Historical accuracy is not especially its strong suit.

Ride with the Devil (1999)

Before he became Spiderman, actor Tobey Maguire played a young guerrilla soldier loyal to the South in this Civil War drama. This tale about the Missouri bushwackers, a little-known group of non-uniformed fighting men, reminds us that this war was not simply a North-versus-South, or a slave-versus-free, affair.

3:10 to Yuma (2007)

Christian Bale plays a Civil War veteran who may lose his farm if he cannot find a way to pay his debts. When he is offered a large sum to detain and escort a dangerous outlaw (Russell Crowe) to a train headed to a federal court in Yuma, he must accept. Scenes in this riveting action film present the post-Civil War West as a place where life remained tough, unpredictable, and wild.

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