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DVD Reviews: Andersonville

The Final Say!

Review Score
Reviewed by Andrew B
Review Date: 2 August 2003
Distributed by: Warner Home Video






Andersonville is the latest American Civil War movie to arrive on DVD, that contains some of the most realistic depictions of this turbulent time in American history. Andersonville captures the true elements of war that include the harsh times of the era such as death, disease, racism, internal conflicts and a variety of other problems that are associated with a civil war. The movie also faithfully recreates one of the worst prisoner camps of the Civil War that was named "Andersonville" and held over 45,000 prisoners of war with almost a quarter of them dying within the camp.

The movie revolves around a young runner for the Union soldiers called Jim (played by William H. Macy) who is captured by Confederate soldiers and is taken to Andersonville. Fortunately for Jim, he is reunited with a few of his fellow comrades who band together with other Union soldiers to escape from Andersonville. Unfortunately, life within Andersonville is less than hospitable and they must watch every move that they make, especially from a dominant faction of prisoners called the "Raiders" who control the unwritten law within the camp and add the despicably Captain Wirz, the commander of the prisoner and you have one of the worst humanity conditions on Earth.

Without spoiling this epic movie any further (A total of 167 minutes), the movie contains many escape attempts, some frightful battles between the various factions of Andersonville and some very impressive acting from a majority of unknown actors. Acknowledgements should also be given to director John Frankenheimer who does a brilliant job at directing this epic that contains thousands of extras and actors that will be familiar and unfamiliar to viewers who help make this one of the most intensive movies of all time.

The DVD contains a few extras that include audio commentaries by the director of the movie, John Frankenheimer) and various DVD-ROM features that include "A soldiers journal", "Cast/Creator Profiles", "Historical Background" and "Inside Andersonville".

The picture quality of the DVD is shown in its original format of full screen and there is not artefacting or any DVD errors throughout the movie at all. The movie itself is quite "grey" but this is due to the conditions in Andersonville but every now and then, such as the escape scene and the river scene, a moment of colour (and hope) appears for the viewers. The sound quality of Andersonville, although rarely used is Dolby Digital 5.1 and sometimes sounds a little "flat" at the best of times but considering that it was originally intended for television, it still sounds quite acceptable.

In conclusion, Andersonville is a very "harsh" and thought provoking movie that not only questions the motifs of war but also that of mankind itself. Many of the actors in Andersonville are unknown but make a brilliant furore into the world of movies. I recommended this DVD to anyone who likes realistic war movies or for those that enjoy a very long epic. Just a note of caution, as the movie was  based on a real-world event, don't expect any Hollywood endings.

- Andrew B

Andersonville Features

- Audio Commentary : One with Director John
  Frankenheimer and the Other Commentary
  includes writers, editors, producers and
- Biographies
- DVD ROM Features : Soldiers Journal, Images
  from Andersonville, Cast/Creator Profiles,
  Historical Background, Inside Andersonville
- Deleted Scenes : A Visit From the Ladies
- Interactive Menus
- Scene Access
- M15+
- 167 minutes

Copyright 2003 www.impulsegamer.com