Thursday, May 18, 2006

Another Splendid Documentary from Mark Bussler

I always look forward to seeing a documentary by filmmaker Mark Bussler. Why? Because he uses a cinematic approach and avoids those talking heads that make up most scenes in movies of this type. With Horses of Gettysburg, Bussler captures the sight and sound of charging horses in battlefield sequences with incredible authenticity. He also manages to emphasize the important relationship existing between horse and rider. And isn’t it about time someone paid tribute to the 72,000 horses that fought at the Battle of Gettysburg?

According to Bussler, whose Gettysburg and Stories of Valor film received so much critical acclaim, the idea for this new documentary started with questions like how many horses were involved in the Battle of Gettysburg, who fed them, how were they trained, what happened to them during the battle?

Narrator Ronald F. Maxwell, director of Gettysburg and Gods and Generals, sets the right dignified tone for this tribute to the brave animals in the Battle of Gettysburg. Maxwell also shares his fascinating experiences working with horses in movies in one of the DVD bonus features.

This enlightening and entertaining DVD would be a valuable addition to any American History class. But most of all, it’s a must-see for Civil War buffs and anyone who loves horses.

For more information about the Horses of Gettysburg DVD, go to

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Not Haunting Enough

Doors squeak, floors creak, thunder roars and music soars in An American Haunting, a tale of a young girl and her family who were bedeviled by some sort of spirit in Red River, Tennessee, during the early 1800s. Sadly, the most mysterious thing about this overwrought horror-thriller-mystery is how two fine actors like Donald Sutherland and Sissy Spacek became involved in such a dreadful movie.

Based on true events, the Bell case is touted as the only documented one in U.S. history in which a spirit caused the death of a person, so there is great material here for a scary film. The movie does boast a gothic visual atmosphere quite appropriate for this type of story, but its extra-loud sound effects, repetitive thrashing-about scenes, and overpowering music (which, believe it or not, in one scene sounds whimsical!) just about drove me nuts.

Seldom do I want to walk out on a film -- no matter how awful it is. But An American Haunting joins Van Helsing and The Man on this short list.

To read my full review, go to