New Song About Confederate Flag

So, while I was at home this weekend, my mom was watching CMT and there was an interview with Brad Paisley about one of his new songs called Accidental Racist which features L.L. Cool J.  The song is about how different people view the Confederate flag and how see it as racist although that may not be what the wearer may be trying to portray…either way, enjoy.

Sorry I couldn’t find the actual interview..but here’s the song.

Ride with the Devil

Ang Lee’s 1999 film, “Ride with the Devil,” portrays the bitter Kansas-Missouri border war during the Civil War.  The film focuses on Jake Roedel, a southern-sympathizing militiaman, who joins a Missouri gang of guerilla warfare using marauders.  The film depicts the hatred between the pro-slavery, Bushwhackers, and anti-slavery, Jayhawkers, sides, the war’s dramatic escalation, and the onslaught between the warring states.  As the tension and hostility between the two reach an apex, the Bushwhackers strategy for retaliation against the hostile Jayhawkers is to raid Lawrence, Kansas, an anti-slavery headquarters.  The gang, led by William Quantrill, rides into Lawrence, killing many of the male citizens and burning much of the city down.  After the raid, the gang flees the annihilated city, attempting to escape the Union Army’s counterattack.  As the film progresses, Roedel is intentionally shot by a fellow gang member, who holds a grudge towards him due to the disapproval of his German heritage.  After Roedel’s recovery, he leaves the gang, is forced into marriage, and by the Civil War’s end, moves with his new wife to California.

This film relates to the themes of our class because it portrays the tension between the pro and anti slavery movements and the hostile escalation their causes ignited.  Constant armed clashes between Kansas Jayhawkers, and pro-slavery Bushwhackers were common.  The conflict intensified in 1861 when the Civil War began and Kansas was admitted into the Union as a free state.  The Lawrence massacre further split the nation from unification.  Quantrill and his gang of marauder’s premeditated invasion into Lawrence elevated the futile tension between Kansas and Missouri.  Their brutal assault against the city ignited the anti slavery’s deeper hatred towards the pro-slavery movement, advocating heightened military action against Missourians.  Lawrence was subjected to Quantrill and his gang’s ruthless guerrilla tactics, which led to the execution of 200 men and the city’s demise.  The attack was deliberate, brutal, and filled with hate.  After the onslaught, Lawrence became a symbol for each side, representing the cultural differences that initially separated the country, which led to the outbreak of the Civil War.  The north viewed the destruction of the city as an act of terrorism.  While the south saw the attack as a necessary act of war.  Violence became the primary method to end disputes between the border states.  The Border War in itself became a scaled-down Civil War due to the conflict stemming from the initial reason the Civil War began:  Slavery.  The deep tensions laid among Kansas and Missouri acted as a microcosm of the whole nation:  North vs. South.  It is interesting to view the film’s portrayal of the hatred between the states and the nation as a whole.  Although the depiction of Roedel puts a more sympathetic face to the pro slavery movement, it does little to illustrate other Bushwhackers in the same regard.  “Ride with the Devil” portrays the feud between Kansas and Missouri as a precautionary tale, advocating that the ideas of two rival movements, such as slavery, can lead to the death of many and destruction of cities.

Ride with the devil. DVD. Directed by Ang Lee. Universal City, CA: Universal, 2000.

 

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Movie Post

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, starring Clint Eastwood, is a western from 1962—with a twist.  Most of the second half of the film takes place amidst the backdrop of the Civil War.  The war presents more of a backdrop than a driving force in the movie, but several of the themes that the war scenes evoke develop into overarching messages of the film.

The film highlights three characters: Blondie, the Good; Angel Eyes, the Bad; and Tuco, the Ugly.  They all have one purpose: to find the Confederate gold secretly buried in a grave somewhere in the west (probably in the New Mexico area).  At one point, Tuco and Blondie pretend to be Union sympathizers and camp with a Union battalion.  The soldiers there reveal a personal look into camp life that is very cynical and does not romanticize the war.  The captain says to Tuco and Blondie, “There’s only one thing in common between us and the guys across the river. We both reek of alcohol…Whoever has the most liquor to get the soldiers drunk and send them to be slaughtered… he’s the winner.”  His comments reflect Blondie’s later sentiment that the bloodshed was all such a waste, on both sides.  This theme of wasting lives is present throughout the movie; the reason that Angel Eyes is considered the bad is because he has little regard for human life.  Blondie and Tuco, while they are certainly not afraid to kill in most cases, do have a greater respect for life—if evidenced only by the fact that neither one ever manages to kill the other, despite attempts and threats to do so.

The movie hints at some of the perceptions held in mainstream culture in the 1960s.  Race is not addressed to any great degree, and even then the most predominant ethnicity or race portrayed is Hispanic.  The movie has a more northern bend, with only fleeting depictions of southern soldiers and typically not as rounded characters.  There are pacifist themes that echo a nation tired of conflict, alongside the escapism of the Western genre of film, idealizing a time past.  In fact, it’s an interesting juxtaposition of two highly idealized eras in American history: that of a wild West, romanticized in the movie, and that of a fractured nation, depicted rather starkly in the film.

Gangs of New York — The movie that’s sort of, kind of about the Civil War

Amsterdam and Cutting

Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York (2002) is a gritty look into the riots of New York City before and during the Civil War. The film begins in 1846 with the gathering of two rival sides: natives and Irishmen. They meet at the center of five streets known as “Five Points” in order to settle conflict over the Irishmen’s and Irishwomen’s right to live and work in the city and in America. The protagonist of the story, a young Irish boy in 1846 by the name of Amsterdam, watches his father die at the hands of a nativist that goes by the name of Bill “The Butcher” Cutting. This begins Amsterdam’s quest for revenge on Cutting as the young boy is sent to an orphanage. Sixteen years later, Amsterdam returns and finds the city filled with corrupt leaders, including Cutting, who now runs Five Points. The Civil War is in its second year by this point, and the dead are returning home in coffins on the harbor just as Irish immigrants leave their boats and set foot in America for the first time. Amsterdam joins in with Cutting’s corrupt dealings within the Five Points in hopes of getting close to his enemy. He meets a woman named Jenny who is under the care of Cutting since she was an orphan child. Drama arises between Cutting and Amsterdam over Jenny and Amsterdam’s plot to kill Cutting. Amsterdam attempts a different method and amasses the Irish people of Five Points in order to take control of the town. The final confrontation takes place during the New York City draft riots of 1863, and Cutting is killed by cannon fire.

Gangs of New York is not about the Civil War; however, it is set within the context of the war. One of the first scenes depicts the celebration of and resistance to the emancipation by Lincoln. A number of other scenes also impress upon the audience the problems facing the North during the war, mainly that they needed soldiers. As Irish immigrants apply for citizenship they also sign up to be soldiers, put on their uniforms, grab their guns, and get on another boat, this one headed for the South. While this is often considered a movie about the draft riots, it would be more accurate to describe it as a film with the draft riots in the last 10 minutes. This film does offer an interesting and modern look at the racist and uncooperative North during the Civil War. People of the North are often regarded as abolitionists, and at the very least, a safe place for African Americans. This movie illustrates a small part of the difficulties they faced. The war is not a positive event in this movie; it means death and conflict. Given that Scorsese had hoped to make this movie in the 1970s, it may be possible that the Vietnam War and the subsequent wars affected this perspective.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UYsS_3zdwmA[/youtube]

Cocks, Jay. Gangs of New YorkDVD. Directed by Martin Scorsese. Santa Monica, CA: Miramax Films, 2002.

IMDb. Gangs of New York. Photos. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0217505/mediaindex?ref_=tt_pv_md_sm (accessed April 3, 2013).

Sommersby: A film review in Civil War Memory

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uEV254fkxpU[/youtube]

Synopsis:

The 1993 film, Sommersby, is a romantic waste of time, set in the reconstruction era following the Civil War. Jack Sommersby left his family and prosperous Tennessee plantation to fight for the Confederacy. After a number of years and no word from Jack, his family presumes that he died in the war. His wife Laurel is content that he never returned because he was a loveless, abusive drunk with a gambling problem, and plans to marry another man. Miraculously, Jack returns home a changed man who is loving and kind, claiming that “War changes you; makes you appreciate things.” Laurel’s estranged suitor is put off by Jack’s new personality and becomes suspicious that he is not really Jack Sommersby.  Seeing how badly damaged his town has become, Jack suggests growing tobacco as a cash crop by selling off parts of his own land to people who can buy it after they have farmed it and makes the offer available to former slaves much to the dismay of his neighbors. After being successful in the tobacco fields all seems well until Jack is arrested on the charge of murder. During his trial he is convicted and sentenced to hang and is taken to the gallows and executed.

Analysis:

There are a few themes throughout the movie which are worth mentioning in regard to Civil War memory.  In the opening scenes, a soldier is traveling on foot, and sees badly damaged homes and towns and comes across children poking at black men who have been hung. The soldier is Jack Sommersby, once he reaches his town, he encounters an old friend and they discuss the loss of the man’s arm at the Battle of Chickamauga. Another notable scene is when Jack asks Laurel how bullet holes ended up in the wall, she explains, Yankees looted their home taking the silver, carpets and anything of value.  His wife was responsible for running their farm in his absence as many Southern wives did when their husbands left for the war. A scene where the Knights of the White Camelia burn a cross in Jack’s yard because he offered to sell land to free blacks accurately depicts the racial tension felt in the south, as many southerners did not believe free blacks should own land.  Though much of this film’s historic qualities are far from accurate, it ties in well with the early 1990s view of racial equality, including free blacks in a land ownership bargain, and the judge during the murder trial being played by James Earl Jones, giving a free black a position of legal power which was rare in the South. Though set in the reconstruction era, the films theme of racial unity is a bit strange given the time period and location it is set in. The film tries to offer a “politically correct” view with the eradication of class differences within a Southern community. Much like similar movies from the 1990s, the film tries to fluff over any historical racial issues.

“Ironclads” (1991) Review

Ironclads (1991) is “based on the true account of the Monitor vs the Merrimac. The movie uses the story of the Battle of Hampton Roads (1862) as the backdrop for the story of love and loyalty. The USS Monitor and the Merrimac (CSS Virginia) represented the first battle between ironclads and forever changed naval warfare. Like in the film, both ironclads could have done significant damage on port cities along the East Coast. However in the film, the battle developed into a fight that would forever change the war. The battle did no such thing, but the ships did become symbols of ingenuity. The first half of the film was about the design and development of the two ships.

Ironclads chose to focus on the Union cause and the ending of slavery. Betty, a Virginian who despises slavery, acts as a spy for she is well placed in the right circles. Her love for Catesby Jones, second in command on the Merrimac, overshadows her loyalty to the Union cause. Her role in the movie is to give the Union information about the Merrimac and that would help the war effort, the abolitionist effort.

Ironclads is important in the larger picture of understanding the Civil War in memory because it reflects on 1991 perception of the Civil War and the Battle of Hampton Roads. The Battle of Hampton Roads is revolutionary in naval warfare but controversial in its result. Both sides claimed victory, but some claim a draw. This debate still occurs, even in scholarly works, such as The Battle of Hampton Roads: New Perspectives on the USS Monitor and CSS Virginia. Ironclads did do a good job in the details of the ships, battles, costumes, and other historical points.

Holzer, Harold and Tim Mulligan, eds. The Battle of Hampton Roads: New Perspectives on the USS Monitor and CSS Virginia. New York: Fordham University Press, 2006.

Quarstein, John V. A History of Ironclads: The Power of Iron Over Wood. Charleston, SC: The History Press, 2006.

Ironclads VHS. Directed by Delbert Mann. California: Turner Pictures, 1991.

“Ironclads” (1991) Review

Ironclads (1991) is “based on the true account of the Monitor vs the Merrimac. The movie uses the story of the Battle of Hampton Roads (1862) as the backdrop for the story of love and loyalty. The USS Monitor and the Merrimac (CSS Virginia) represented the first battle between ironclads and forever changed naval warfare. Like in the film, both ironclads could have done significant damage on port cities along the East Coast. However in the film, the battle developed into a fight that would forever change the war. The battle did no such thing, but the ships did become symbols of ingenuity. The first half of the film was about the design and development of the two ships.

Ironclads chose to focus on the Union cause and the ending of slavery. Betty, a Virginian who despises slavery, acts as a spy for she is well placed in the right circles. Her love for Catesby Jones, second in command on the Merrimac, overshadows her loyalty to the Union cause. Her role in the movie is to give the Union information about the Merrimac and that would help the war effort, the abolitionist effort.

Ironclads is important in the larger picture of understanding the Civil War in memory because it reflects on 1991 perception of the Civil War and the Battle of Hampton Roads. The Battle of Hampton Roads is revolutionary in naval warfare but controversial in its result. Both sides claimed victory, but some claim a draw. This debate still occurs, even in scholarly works, such as The Battle of Hampton Roads: New Perspectives on the USS Monitor and CSS Virginia. Ironclads did do a good job in the details of the ships, battles, costumes, and other historical points.

Holzer, Harold and Tim Mulligan, eds. The Battle of Hampton Roads: New Perspectives on the USS Monitor and CSS Virginia. New York: Fordham University Press, 2006.

Quarstein, John V. A History of Ironclads: The Power of Iron Over Wood. Charleston, SC: The History Press, 2006.

Ironclads VHS. Directed by Delbert Mann. California: Turner Pictures, 1991.

Farby Reenactors

So this may be more relevant for next week, but on the thread one person speaks of their experience as a movie extra in GloryThis source is a thread on a Civil War Reenactors chatroom.  I found the irony of reenactors using old jargon as they attempt to initiate an interested person into their ranks by using the internet.  One commenter said “Greetings KeystoneCutter,  Have you tried ‘Google’ 50th Pennsylvania Re-enactors?” and included a link.  His rank, according to the website, is that of a Brigadier General and moderator.