Ridley Scott and The History Channel to Develop American Civil War Documentary GETTYSBURG

     February 9, 2011


For the 150th anniversary of America’s deadliest war, Ridley Scott and his brother Tony are teaming up with the History Channel to produce Gettysburg, a new feature documentary which reinvents how we look at the historic battle. In the four years of conflict between the Union and Confederate armies, over 600,000 American lives were lost. So it’s quite fitting that the Gettysburg is being described as “a visceral, terrifying experience.”

The Scott brothers plan to use re-enactment footage alongside CGI in order to tell the story of the soldiers on the ground. Gettysburg will be one part of a week-long theme event dedicated to the Civil War on The History Channel. This commemoration will be an annual event on the channel for the next four years. Hit the jump for more on the project, including what Ridley had to say, as well as what other programs The History Channel has in store for their Civil War-themed week. [Update: We've added the official press release to this story.  You can read it after the jump.]

history-channel-logoIn speaking with EW, Ridley Scott commented on Gettysburg thusly:

“History is the perfect partner for us to tell the epic true story of Gettysburg. We are excited to bring this battle to audiences in a powerful new way.”

Recently, The History Channel scrapped its plans to air an 8-part miniseries about the Kennedy family for a variety of reasons. The move to launch an annual theme-week about a formative historical event might be their way of nudging back on brand. The inclusion of the Scott brothers ensures that the entertainment value will not be lost.

Rest assured, The History Channel’s regular programming, like Pawn Stars and American Pickers will still air during the week. They will simply have a Civil War theme to them. I’m not sure if this will apply to MonsterQuest or Swamp People.

The History Channel will also feature more informative specials, such as Grant & Lee, highlighting the generals on either side of the war. Nancy Dubuc, president and general manager of History, considers this week-long event to be part of a larger national education campaign.

“The Civil War is arguably one of the most critical events in our nation’s history. Our four-year commitment highlighting the anniversary, key battles, and people who fought during that conflict underscores our deep devotion to the genre — it is a pledge we are making to our country, to our viewers, and to every school in America.”

Look for Civil War week to air on The History Channel sometime in early April.  Here’s the press release:











New York, NY – February 9, 2011 – HISTORY® is set to launch a four-year initiative to both honor and commemorate the Civil War, which marks its 150th anniversary in 2011, starting with a weeklong programming event, fully integrated across all platforms, it was announced today by Nancy Dubuc, President and General Manager, HISTORY.  HISTORY will launch a national educational campaign tied to the Civil War which will serve educational institutions for generations to come.  A two-hour feature documentary has begun production, Gettysburg, to be Executive Produced by the Scott brothers, Tony (Unstoppable; Man on Fire; Top Gun) and Ridley (Gladiator; Black Hawk Down; American Gangster).

“The Civil War is arguably one of the most critical events in our nation’s history, and one to which  HISTORY has been dedicated since our inception. Our four-year commitment to the Civil War, highlighting the 150th anniversary and the key battles and people who fought during that conflict, underscore our deep devotion to the genre – it is a pledge we are making to our country, to our viewers and to every school in America,” said Ms. Dubuc. “To kick off this epic programming event, I can think of no better and more amazing, awe inspiring story-tellers than Tony and Ridley Scott. They will bring the raw courage of all who fought in Gettysburg to light.”

“HISTORY is the perfect partner for us to tell the epic true story of Gettysburg.  We are excited to bring this battle to audiences in a powerful new way,” said Scott Free, principal Ridley Scott.

Gettysburg will strip away the romanticized veneer of the Civil War and present the engagement in a new light: a visceral, terrifying experience with everything on the line. At its core, this is the story of the soliders on the ground, not the generals who commanded from behind the frontlines. Compelling CGI and powerful action footage place viewers in the midst of the fighting, delivering both an emotional cinematic experience and an information packed look at the turning points, technology, and little known facts of perhaps America’s greatest battle.

Gettysburg will launch a week long programming event on HISTORY, including special Civil War themed episodes of Pawn Stars, American Pickers and other specials throughout the week, details of which to be unveiled over the coming months. As well, the network will also premiere a two-hour special, Lee & Grant.

Produced with the cooperation of leading Civil War historian Winston Groom, author of Forrest Gump, Lee & Grant is a personal look at two iconic leaders of the Civil War. Surprising details reveal the bold choices and almost godlike power Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee summoned on decisive battlefields like Vicksburg and Gettysburg that, within days of each other, turned the tide of the war. As part of HISTORY’s Civil War Week, this special features a unique perspective, exploring how these men changed the course of American history.

National advertisers Bank of America, Ram, and GEICO have signed on to sponsor the week-long event.

Gettysburg is being produced for HISTORY by executive producers Tony and Ridley Scott as well as Mary Lisio; Showrunner is Ben Fox. Director is Adrian Moat; Writer is Richard Bedser; Graphics produced by Stargate Studios; HISTORY Executive Producers are David McKillop, Mary Donahue and Julian P. Hobbs.

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  • Rick

    Just a question, how can the History Channel (remember their refusal to air SCV commercials) produce a documentary on Gettysburg and have any credibility as to actual happenings. I think they should stick to their essays on flying saucers and aliens. They appear to be more accurate in their reporting on those topics.

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  • Dan Foley

    People, I realize that Gettysburg is an important battle in the American civil War, but Gettyburg has already been DONE TO DEATH. There are other pivitol battles that should be covered. Vicksburg was equally vital to the succesful termination to the war. Shiloh was another important battle in the west. You could even cover the entire Overland campaign. Gettysburg is not the end all be all of that war. Do something different for a change


      Gettysburg has been done to death because the North won. In truth Gettysburg broke the back of the South, although Vicksburg was a major victory, it was a siege, the outcome was never in doubt. After Gettysburg the South was never able to go on the offensive again with the exception on Bentonville, N.C. March 19-21 1865

      • Adam Harmon

        Actually, there was that whole Washington affair when Jubal Early got to the very doors of the city in Summer 1864, during the early stages of the Siege of Petersburg. And Hoods’ autumn 1864 offensive into Union held Tennessee. Even during the Battle of the Wilderness Lee was able to throw a massive counterattack that nearly turned the tide of battle in his favor.

        Gettysburg, while a very flashy battle and a turning point, in a truth pales with the significance of the falls of Vicksburg and Atlanta. And, it wasn’t until the Wilderness nearly a year later and Grant in charge before the Army of the Potomac never retreated.

  • doug lyons

    Gettysburg is most familiar to the average American so it is going to draw the broadest audience.

    Lets hope it is done correctly. One can watch Ted Turners treatment of the subject from beginning to end and have endless material to criticize from the age and weight of many of the soldiers to the presence of the wrong type of equipment (a frame tents in mid war) to rebel yell leading prior to Pickett’s Charge …

    Do it right or don’t do it at all.

  • Jack Dolehide

    Just finished “Killer Angels” for the 2nd time. Hope this movie is not filled with politically correct garbage. Love to see some of the info from what soldiers and generals had seen and documented. Artistic license aside, I don’t want a film with blood and gore in some attempt to just lecture on the obvious. Perfer to show the actions and decisions of generals and others. Their mistakes and successes. The previous West Point relationships are significant. It should also illustrate the southern cause, the norths resolve and the immigrants contribution (Irish Brigade). Eager to see it, but tough to expect so much

  • Sieg

    I think the real reason Gettyburg remains in the American imagination and is “done to death” has little to do with the Federals or whether or not the battle was the most significant in the war. At the heart is the American love relationship with the Confederacy. Gettysburg epitomizes the notion of the “noble” but lost cause that was/is the ACW for many Confederates and their supporters – no hope of winning in reality, despite many successes, yet they fought on, not for some unobtainable victory but in the mind of many people then and now for things like honor, romance, glory, courage, and cause. In context of the battle all is epitomized in Pickett’s March (wasn’t really much of a charge – as few people charge in the July heat of Pennsylvania). No other battle in the ACW really embodies all of these thigns like the Battle of Gettysburg.

  • Alexis

    Thank Goodness! Finally there will be a proper depiction of this great and terrible debacle, aside from Ken Burns’ Civil War series, that will showcase Gettysburg in the proper light – in all its sadness, carnage, ferocity, terror, and stark reality! Hopefully the great Ridley Scott will redeem the clean and silly sentimental sappiness of the Turner movies, Gettysburg and Gods and Generals. Yes, the Battle of Gettysburg has been done to death, but not properly!! Viewers will hopefully view this new representation with incredulity and horror, perhaps getting somewhat of a feel for the hunger, sickness, stink, dirtiness, sounds, fear, anger, fatigue, and sights of what emaciated young men can do to each other with modern weapons and Napoleonic battlefield tactics.

    • Mark Burns

      Actualy, Alexis, the Ted Turner Gettysburg was very accurate in its portrayal of the battle. There was almost no hand to hand fighting. One third of the casualties was from artillary. Very few bayonet wounds. One does see that at Chickamauga, but not at Gettysburg.

      There are great stories of chivalry during the battle as there was not a lot of propaganda dehumanizing the other side. There was not a lot of hate. That would change after the Union started using Black soldiers, but that is another story.

      If there is any complaint that I have of the TT battle scenes, it is that the actors appear too well fed. The Confederates would have been much thinner.

      I have yet to see any correct portrayal of how I imagine artillary explosions would have been at the time. The goal of the battery was to have the coffee can shell filled with minnie balls explode overhead of the target, raining death on all below. There are very good contemporary photos of guns and caissons surrounded by dead soldiers and horses from the overhead exploding hail of death, the other items appearing untouched.

      Also, with Gods and Generals, I never thought that I would see the Battle of Fredricksburg so accurately portrayed. That was only possible with modern CGI. A very good movie that too many ignored.

  • Travis F

    I for one, am actually very excited to see this. The civil War, and WWII are the two wars that I have put extensive research and energy into learning all aspects of the war by also trying to view it through the eyes of all parties involved. I hope that Gettysburg will allow us as viewers to both be entertained as well as see the historical importance of what took place. I hope that the Scott brothers along with the history channel captures the struggles of strategy, movments, the unseen hardships as well as the hardships of the soldiers. I want to walk away from this learning something that I didnt know about Gettysburg. I do agree with others. While this has been done to death.. Gettysburg is still one of the most popular and well known battles of the Civil War. So it would make sense to use it to draw an audience. How many times have you seen Wyatt Earp? And in how many different ways? What about Billy the Kid? Regardless, i’m excited to see it.

  • alan satz

    Alright then,WHEN is the date of broadcast????I live in Palm BeachFL…I really am interested in this

  • alan satz


    • Dennis W.

      Memorial Day

  • Nena

    I’m a bit curious to see if they include the gov. Curtin’s involvement. He was a major presence as in evidenced in Carl Sandburg’s The War Years. That is a story in itself, before, during and after, that I’ve never seen addressed.

  • see saw

    —-Scott’s not even getting old,
    he’s just getting stale.

    IF he’s in need of the plot (TREASON and EUGENICS)
    he might check out the video of Australian PM Rudd
    laying out the sellout in Chinese, to the awesomely
    genocidal RED Chinese regime.

    ‘Fabian Socialists WIN’ ————on youtube.

    Check it out —————BLOW YOUR MIND

  • Patrick G.

    I hope Ridley and Tony Scott succeed in presenting this account of Gettysburg devoid of political correctness. I agree that Turner’s Gettysburg movie included too many fat reenactors and that detracted from the true physical appearance of the soldiers of both armies. But even more importantly, I hope that the Scotts have provided somewhat for the soldiers speaking for themselves through letters, diaries, post war interviews, etc. I will assume the Scotts are sincere in their efforts and that they will convey the great sacrifices made in this battle with the respect that is due.

  • nena

    I like all the comments here, and enjoyed reading them. Are the Scotts the typical Hollywood liberals? I don’t know much about them, if they do PC version, I’ll be disappointed. just tell it like it is and be real.

  • saltwaterboy

    Tried to watch this but was forced to change the channel when i had enough of this horrible depiction of history. There are just to many hollywood inaccuracies to mention!

    Uniforms were horrible! Modern Infantry Hat brass(the period infantry emblem was the hunting horn till the late 1870s). Cav Chevrons on Infantry soldiers. double breasted fatigue blouses (non exhistant). Soldiers wearing officer rank. Just tooo many to mention!

    Infantry Formations were not present, making every engagement over the 3 days a mob of undiciplined mad men. They were skilled soldiers and masters of the art of formations. This was NOT depicted!

    Southern Soldiers as usual were made to look like a mob of backwoods fools.

    I am sure that the veterans of this war are looking down in discust as the horrible depiction of their actions!

    The Authenticty advisor and the historical researchers should be FIRED! But nope this was all a play to make a buck and alter history again! History Channel should stick to american pickers, Pawn stars, and other reality TV shows. They are failing at other efforts of depicting history!


  • sandi,iowa

    who narrated Lee vs. Grant?

  • Glorified Plumber

    Sounds like Jonathan Frakes… aka William T. Riker.

    • sandi,iowa

      Thank you GP. U hit the nail right on the head.

  • r miller

    I was utterly disappointed with this so called real story of Gettysburg. I was obviously not researched well at all. General Barksdale loolked like Ambrose Burnside. The History Channel shouldn’t even be called a History channel, NOTHING they do anymore is historical. Nothing but crappy reality shows that aren’t even real. People just hamming it up for the camera.

  • r miller

    I was looking forward to the documentary on Gettysburg and was utterly disappointed and disgusted with it. If you are going to use CGI than at least put in the correct locations. And how come General Barksdale looked like Ambrose Burnside? This History Channel doesn’t even do history anymore, there just another worthless reality channel.

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