Emancipation, Hollywood’s Best Civil War Film Ever

Still, from Emancipation.

Emancipating Film History

The Civil War is among Hollywood’s favorite, most frequently filmed wars, and since the silent era numerous popular motion pictures have dramatized “the war between the states.” This oeuvre includes notable productions such as: D.W. Griffith’s 1915 epic The Birth of a Nation; Oscar-winner Victor Fleming’s 1939 Gone with the Wind, based on Margaret Mitchell’s bestseller; John Huston’s 1951 adaptation of Stephen Crane’s novel The Red Badge of Courage; 1989’s Glory; as well as Ken Burns’ epochal 9-episode nonfiction TV series The Civil War, which won two Emmy Awards. Now add to this list what is arguably Tinseltown’s best Civil War movie ever: Antoine Fuqua’s Emancipation, starring Will Smith and Ben Foster.

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Ed Rampell was named after legendary CBS broadcaster Edward R. Murrow because of his TV exposes of Senator Joe McCarthy. Rampell majored in Cinema at Manhattan’s Hunter College and is an L.A.-based film historian/critic who co-organized the 2017 70th anniversary Blacklist remembrance at the Writers Guild theater in Beverly Hills and was a moderator at 2019’s “Blacklist Exiles in Mexico” filmfest and conference at the San Francisco Art Institute. Rampell co-presented “The Hollywood Ten at 75” film series at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures and is the author of Progressive Hollywood, A People’s Film History of the United States and co-author of The Hawaii Movie and Television Book.    

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