Film Score Review – “Gettysburg”

Gettysburg Poster



As we once again find ourselves marching toward Veteran’s Day, I’ve dusted off the CD cover of one of my favorite film scores of all time. Randy Edelman’s Gettysburg is an absolute masterpiece. Not only does Edelman capture the history of the time by using period instruments such as banjos and fifes, but he also takes the deeply personal stories of each soldier and sets them to music, breathing new life into these powerful historic accounts. The result is a film score which is sweepingly epic, intimately beautiful, and absolutely haunting.

My favorite musical moment occurs as a group of exhausted Southern soldiers lie wounded around a campfire and talk about why they joined this war effort in the first place. Some explain that they were simply trying to protect their homes and families, while others say they did it to preserve their family honor. Then they receive the news that Robert E. Lee has surrendered, and their battle has been lost. As these courageous men wipe tears from their eyes, the film score plays the familiar Southern fight song, “Dixie.” But instead of an energetic march filled with brilliant fife and full of fighting spirit, the tune is played at a much slower pace. While the familiar melody remains unchanged, it is accompanied by sorrowful minor arpeggios performed by banjo. All of this reflects the deep reflection – and heartbreaking sorrow – of the moment.


“Dixie” – from Gettysburg, by Randy Edelman


Each time I listen to this powerful arrangement I begin to meditate on the battles we each face in life, especially spiritual ones. I also find myself reflecting on the very real danger of spiritual pride.

Proverbs 16:18 says that “pride comes before destruction, and an arrogant spirit before a fall.” The moment we begin to think that we have all of life’s challenges handled and are doing just fine on our own, we find ourselves in a “Dixie Moment” of our own, battle-worn and weary, and mourning another deep and painful loss.

This is why Scripture exhorts us to wake up every morning and refuse to face life on our own. Instead, we are to begin each day by running to God for help. We can put on the armor of God by finding wisdom in His Word, protection through developing a strong faith in God’s might and not our own, and praying on all occasions (Ephesians 6:10-18).

Doing life on our own only results in sorrow, but relying fully on God’s power will bring us victory. If we can learn to do this daily, then we can live triumphant lives and march to the beat of a much happier drum!





6 thoughts on “Film Score Review – “Gettysburg”

  1. Well said!
    Movies (and life) would be much less “vibrant” without a well-executed musical score.

    Thank you for the reminder to daily tune our hearts to align with the direction of the Holy Spirit 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for introducing me to a movie I hadn’t known of. You describe they way music is used beautifully. I grew up singing Dixie and loved it, I’m touched by your observation of “Dixie moments” and how they limit living in the future. I’m glad to be reminded today that I go forward with God’s grace.


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