Sunday, August 30, 2009

"On Wings of Gentle Power" Nearing Publication

My new book of poetry, "On Wings of Gentle Power," is in the final stages of publication and should be available with a couple of months. This is a collaboration with the acclaimed novelist and all around renaissance man, Al Past, who is providing some incredible photography to go along with the poems in the volume. Al is author if the acclaimed "Distant Cousin" series of novels.

From the introduction...

"This is a work of many years, an effort at communicating a personal perception of life and its continual mysteries. We explore childhood’s beginnings, concepts of universal origins, the charms of the high mountains, the tragedy of war, and the reality of life’s endings.

The compilation of such various poems is an effort to wrap life’s experiences into a relatively small package. If you read closely you will find embedded in the sometimes fanciful, sometimes serious verse what I believe to be fundamental truths about God, the natural world, and the human condition."

The book will of course be available at online booksellers such as I will provide further information as the publication date draws near. I am excited about sharing some of my old and new poetry, and Al's marvelous black and white photography. Please stay tuned.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Only Good Movies Blog

I am pleased to say that the "Only Good Movies" blog has posted a link to this blog, because of the reviews of "Gettysburg" and its soundrack. The blog has a section of "75 War Movies to See Before You Die." You can find the site here - .

Good info for students of history and those interested in movies about war.

The Movie "Gettysburg"

I wrote in an earlier post about the movie soundtrack to "Gettysburg" the epic movie made by Ted Turner's studios in the early nineties. When the movie came out, I was very excited that a realistic, feature length movie was being made about this epic battle.

I remember going to see the movie with my wife, who was not all that excited about sitting through a five hour Civil War film, but who gamefully came along. We settled in for the movie, and when the opening credits rolled, it was enough to take a Civil War buff's breath away. There on the screen appeared the pictures of the great generals and the actors who played them, behind which played the powerful opening theme. For a student of the war, it was a powerful moment.

The movie itself did not disappoint. It was well scripted, reasonably historically correct, and had a good mix of action and dialogue. Martin Sheen's portrayal of Robert E. Lee was surprisingly good. Sheen replaced the producer's first choice, Robert Duvall, who was unavailable for the role due to a conflict. Duvall subsequently portayed Lee in the less impressive "prequel," "Of God's and Generals."

Tom Berengers portrayal of General James Longstreet was equally good. He captured the essence of the powerful commander of Lee's First Corps, known as his "war horse." Other portayals, including Steven Lang as General George Pickett were also good. I thought Sam Elliott as Union Cavalry General Buford was a waste of Mr. Elliott's talent and persona. He would have been better used as a Confederate General with that western drawl of his.

The movie was probably overlong by about an hour. There were certain segments that could have been left out, but no major complaints. Jeff Daniels' portrayal of Union General Joshua Chamberlain was also impressive and believable. He did a remarkable job of depicting this exceptional officer's contribution to the battle, and reflected his outstanding personal character.

The battle scenes were realistic enough, though there was very little gore on display. On the one hand that was merciful in itself, but not completely true to life. During Pickett's Charge, when the Confederate troops were hit by Union grapeshot at point blank range, they only appeared to be thrown backwards. In life they would be be torn to pieces. Most people would understand that, and the reason for keeping the bloody parts to a minimum.

My major complaint with the film was that the Confederate re-enactors were almost all too fat. Real Confederates of the day were almost universally lean, from poor and insufficient rations and continual marching. None were grossly overweight as some of the re-neactors used were. I suppose budget constraints were the reason for using these guys, but it did not help the realism of the film.

All in all this was a very impressive movie and one which is a must see for any student of the Civil War. Just realize that even the best depictions of historical events fall woefully short of the real thing.