GDG- Custer (and Gettysburg) On the Tube Again

Batrinque at aol.com Batrinque at aol.com
Wed Jan 18 12:03:54 CST 2012


Last evening I caught the new episode of PBS's "American Experience" titled 
 
Custer's Last Stand". It was fairly well done; i.e., neither engaged in  
mindless Custer-bashing nor was a worshipful paean to the man. It very  
much focused on Custer himself (and his wife) rather than on the battle of  
the 
Little Big Horn per se. There were a few minor errors and some  
interpretations I don't wholly agree with, but that is par for the course.  
One of the latter was the emphasis on how important Custer's actions were 
in  winning at Gettysburg.  The 
photography was much in the mode  popularized by Ken Burns's "The Civil 
War": lots 
of old photos, many of  which were not of the subject actually being 
discussed on screen, while the  camera zooms in or out or scans from side 
to side 
to provide a sense of  dynamism not present in a static photo. I find it 
interesting that in a  print work of history (a book) a wholly different 
standard of acceptable  practice applies -- in any reputable history book 
you 
would seldom find  photos of "not the real thing" used (unless carefully 
identified as such)  but on the TV screen that is normal practice (and in 
justification I suppose  you could say that necessity is behind it: you 
can't fill 
up two hours of  screen time with just images that were actually 
photographed 
at the  time).

Not the greatest thing I have ever seen on television, not the  worst. Not 
the best thing ever done on George Custer or his last battle, and  far from 
the worst. 

Bruce  Trinque
Amston, CT


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