Monday, June 22, 2009

Thoughts on the Gettysburg Movie Soundtrack

I have recently been listening again to the soundtrack from "Gettysburg," and I am struck all over again by what a profoundly moving collection of songs this is. As a relatively new student of the Civil War in 1992, I remember it was as though the air was pulled out of the room when the main theme began, and the pictures of the protagonists began to appear majestically on the screen. Beginning with a photograph of General Lee, then one of Martin Sheen, who played the role, on through Longstreet, Chamberlain, Pickett, Meade, and the rest, along with the respective actors. For anyone with an appreciation of the great war, it was a powerful moment. If music sets the mood, this soundtrack struck exactly the right cord for the depiction of this pivotal event.

The songs on the soundtrack range from powerful orchestral pieces to quiet reproductions of period music. I have never heard a soundtrack for any movie before or since Gettysburg that even approached its power and beauty. It is stirring in a way I have never known music to be before.

It captures the essence of the valor, heroism, struggle, and suffering not only of the epic battle of Gettysburg, but of the Civil War in general. Randy Edelman, the composer, whose credits include the score for The Last of the Mohicans, among others, gets it. He created a unique and monumental score for a very powerful movie. If you are a music aficionado or a Civil War buff, this soundtrack will move you. I almost guarantee it. It is truly exceptional.

1 comment:

O.M. Dalessandro said...

Surely you're also familiar with a tune introduced by the Ken Burns Civil War series, "Ashokan Farewell." Although it's not a Civil War melody, having been written recently by Jay Unger, it somehow manages to capture the melancholy air so often found in music of the period. But there is more to it than that and I haven't yet figured out what, except that it perfectly captures my feelings about the war (Between the States).