On-Air Highlights

The Gettysburg Story

Written by Fred Vigeant, Director of Programming and Promotions for TV and Radio | Nov 19, 2013 10:05 AM

The Gettysburg Story, a new documentary film 150 years following the historic battle.  Directed by filmmaker Jake Boritt, The Gettysburg Story dramatically tells the history of the greatest battle fought in the Western Hemisphere. The stories of characters who experience the battle come alive through dynamic, innovative imagery that captures the historic battleground as it has never been seen it before. 

July 2013 marked the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. This three-day battle changed the course of American history. In 1863 George Meade's Union army defeated Robert E. Lee's Confederate army in the bloodiest battle in American history. Four months later Abraham Lincoln dedicated the National Cemetery by delivering his Gettysburg Address calling for "a new birth of freedom."

Filmmaker Jake Boritt said, “Our greatest challenge with this project, or any project about Gettysburg 150 years later, is creating something fresh. Now, we want to tell the story for our time, using cutting-edge story-telling technologies. We will create for the viewer a new lens through which to watch the battle story unfold in clear and dramatic terms. Our goal for ‘The Gettysburg Story’ is to capture a unique, timeless American place - a story we all should know - as it's never been seen before.”

Aerial Cinema

To tell this story an array of innovative technology is being used including radio-controlled helicopters equipped with electronic gyro stabilization and mounted with high definition cameras. West Coast-based FreeFly Cinema, a pioneer in this rapidly evolving field, captured the battlefield in stunning clarity from never before seen vantage points. The high-resolution imagery captures battle sites from inches above the ground to 400 feet in the air. Aerial drones allowed the camera to follow the flow of battle over the exact ground men fought and died on 150 years ago. Footage was also shot with a full size Bell JetRanger helicopter and with a 5K Red Epic digital camera to capture the storied landscape in rich colors and unparalleled resolution.

Time-Lapse Cinema

Using technology at the vanguard of the industry for motion control time-lapse cinematography the landscape is filmed in a new and dramatic fashion. The production team is working with companies like Dynamic Perception and cinematographers that are spearheading this new art form, including Cameron Michael, Shawn Reeder and Jay Burlage.

One of the very unique aspects of this project is that it marks the first time the National Park Service has permitted a film crew to shoot on the battlefield at night. The amazing low light capabilities of the latest cameras allow shooters to capture the ethereal beauty of the battlefield as billions of stars pass overheard. The team is producing never before seen imagery from the soldiers’ perspective that transfixes the viewer. 

The History of the Battle

In June 1863 the United States and its beleaguered President Abraham Lincoln are being torn apart by Civil War between North and South. Robert E. Lee's seemingly invincible Confederate army is ready to win the war by crushing the Union army in Northern territory. Lee's men advance into Pennsylvania. On June 28 Lincoln names George Meade his new Commanding General. Three days later Meade will lead his men into the greatest battle ever fought in North America.

First  Day

The battle begins on July 1 as both sides race to the crossroads town of Gettysburg. The Rebels gain the advantage and the Union forces retreat in panic. It appears Lee will gain the decisive victory he desires on Northern soil. Most of Gettysburg's civilians hide in their cellars but Jennie Wade offers water and bread to Unions. African-Americans flee the oncoming Confederate army. Union General Hancock arrives and rallies Union men on Cemetery Hill. Then, despite protests from his best general, James Longstreet, Lee makes plans to attack the Union position.

Second Day

On the second day of battle Confederates attack the Union flanks. The Rebels take Devils Den, the Peach Orchard and charge onward. Fierce fighting by Joshua Chamberlain's 20th Maine Regiment and others barely holds the high ground of Little Round Top. A young private named Isaac Taylor with his First Minnesota regiment, outnumbered 5 to 1, charges into advancing Confederates hoping to stall the massive force and allow Union reinforcements to save their position. Soon Rebels attack the opposite end of the Union line, crucial positions on Culps and Cemetery Hills. The foresight of 62 year old General George Greene to build entrenchments allows 1,500 Union men to hold off 5,000 Confederate soldiers as fighting rages into the night. The Union barely hold their ground and Lee believes one more attack will force them to retreat. Meade's generals, their men battered, decide to stand their ground.

Third Day

On the third day, following the largest cannon bombardment in American history, 13,000 Confederate soldiers march across open fields to charge upon the Union center: Pickett's Charge. Under constant fire, only 250 of them will make it across to Bloody Angle. At the High Water Mark Rebel General Lewis Armistead falls, yards from his best friend, the Union General Hancock. The Union repulses the great charge and win the battle.  

Lincoln's Gettysburg Address

In the days that follow the battle Lee's crippled army escapes back to Virginia, prolonging the war. Now nearly 10,000 rotting bodies lie on the fields, in what is the greatest man-made disaster in American history. Four months after the battle, Abraham Lincoln, standing over fresh graves in Gettysburg, explains to the nation why the brutal war must go on. In his Gettysburg Address Lincoln redefines American democracy expanding freedom.

Watch The Gettysburg Story on witf TV Sunday November 24 at 7:00pm.  witf's Joe Ulrich spoke with Jake Boritt earlier this year about the project . Hear the audio here...

Tagged under , ,

back to top