Gettysburg: Director's Cut (Blu-ray)

History comes alive with intense and spirited battles during the bloodiest three days on American soil that were the beginning of the end of the South's battle to secede from the Union. Ronald F. Maxwell takes viewers into the strategy sessions of both forces and shows the minor skirmishes that lead General Lee (Martin Sheen) to order a full-scale frontal assault and how the battle impacted the outcome of the war.

My biggest complaint with this film has always been its length, so I'm not exactly thrilled with the additional 17 minutes in the director's cut. Frankly, Maxwell would have been better served by cutting the run time down at least an hour. It's nearly impossible to get through the entire 271 minutes in one sitting, but having watched it over two nights, I have to admit the history lesson was an enlightening experience.

Video Highlights

  • AVC/1080p encode on a BD50 disc
  • Ample edge enhancement
  • Occasional print damage
  • Dark scenes are a tad noisy
  • Presses the limits of compression technology given its runtime

Audio Highlights

  • DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack
  • Intelligible dialog
  • Impressive LFE
  • Battle scenes sound good, not great

At 271 minutes, it's asking a lot to have a first-rate video encode on a BD-50 disc. A movie of this length should be spread over two discs in order to provide the necessary head room. The audio track is serviceable, but it doesn't quite have the visceral impact of a modern track.

Bonus Materials

  • Audio commentary
  • The Making of Gettysburg
  • The Battle of Gettysburg
  • On Location
  • Maps of the Battlefield
  • The Journey Through Hallowed Ground
  • Theatrical trailer

Despite its bloated runtime, this is a fascinating film about one of the most important events in American history. Maxwell doesn't cut any corners in the screenplay, and the performances by the ensemble cast are enthralling. The A/V presentation is an upgrade over the DVD, but it doesn't rank up there with the best looking and sounding discs.

Release Date: May 24, 2011
Studio: Warner

Movie: 7/10
Picture: 6/10
Sound: 7/10

Review System

Oppo BDP-93 Blu-ray player

JVC DLA-RS40 projector
Stewart FireHawk screen (76.5" wide, 16:9)

Integra DTC-80.2 pre/pro
Anthem PVA-7 power amplifier
Belkin PVA-PF60 power conditioner

M&K S-150s (L, C, R)
M&K SS-150s (LS, RS, SBL, SBR)
SVS PC-Ultra subwoofer

Monoprice HDMI cables (source to pre/pro)
Best Deal analog-audio cables
PureLink HDC Fiber Optic HDMI Cable System (15 meters) from pre/pro to projector

Acoustical treatments from GIK Acoustics