From Birth of a Nation through Gone With the Wind to Glory and Lincoln, film has played a powerful role in shaping how Americans understand the American Civil War (and, in several instances, Reconstruction). Of course, every time a film appears, the critics are sure to follow, with scholars asked to pick apart a film in terms of historical accuracy, followed by complaints that those scholars are jealous, etc.
Some of these issues appear in this discussion sparked by a new film, Field of Lost Shoes. I freely admit that I’ve not seen the movie: indeed, in many cases I avoid seeing certain movies when they are released, because I find the ensuing discussion as predictable as it is discouraging.
“Did you see The Moon Also Rises?”
“Wasn’t that wonderful history?”
“What did you think about it … as a historian, I mean?”
“Well, I still liked it.”
Later … “He’s so picky. Maybe he’s jealous. So what if it wasn’t accurate? I liked it.”
So I won’t say anything about Tom Skerritt’s portrayal of Ulysses S. Grant, even if someone got the buttons on his uniform jacket wrong.
Perhaps this is what happens when you look for a maverick, only to find Franz Sigel.
At least Sigel’s buttons are correct.
Do you have a favorite Civil War movie? Or a least favorite Civil War movie? Details, please …