The Civil War officially started 150 years ago Tuesday, April 12, when Fort Sumter, South Carolina was host to the first battle in the bloodiest United States conflict in history. As an entertainment site, we thought we’d list for you our Top 5 Civil War movies.
5. Gone With the Wind
While not technically about the Civil War, this epic 1939 film uses the
conflict as a backdrop for its story. It gives an interesting look into
the Southern people who were removed from the war and is another classic
not to be missed.
This 1965 gem stars Jimmy Stewart as a Virginia farmer who refuses to get involved in the war, until his son is mistakenly taken prisoner by the Union army. It garnered wonderful reviews, both for its humanitarian, anti-war message and for Stewart’s performance.
3. North and South
This was a made-for-TV miniseries broadcast in 1985, 1986 and 1994. It is set before, during and after the Civil War and stars Patrick Swayze and James Read, in addition to smaller roles by (among others) Elizabeth Taylor, Hal Holbrook, Gene Kelly, Johnny Cash, David Carradine, Morgan Fairchild, Jimmy Stewart and Peter O’Toole. The entire series is incredibly long, but the story is rich and detailed. It was nominated for two Golden Globes and 10 Emmys.
This 1989 film stars Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington and Morgan Freeman. It tells the story of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, which was one of the first formal army units to be made up entirely of African-American men. It is largely through this regiment’s courage in attacking Fort Wagner in South Carolina that encouraged more African-American regiments to form. By the end of the war, more than 180,000 African-American men had been in uniform.
This 1993 movie focuses on the Battle of Gettysburg from the perspective of various men on both sides of the conflict. It stars (among others) Martin Sheen, Tom Berenger and Jeff Daniels. It originally started as a mini-series, but ended up as the longest film ever released by a Hollywood studio, clocking in at 4 hours 14 minutes.
Honorable Mention: Ken Burns’ Civil War documentary
This isn’t a fictional account of the Civil War, like the above movies, but if you want the definitive Civil War piece, this is it. It aired over 5 consecutive nights on PBS in 1990 and has earned over 40 major awards and accolades. Many consider it Ken Burns’ finest piece.