OK, so I’m just going to admit here that this connection is a bit of a stretch, but keep with me, all right? Pennsylvania was one of the original 13 colonies that were eventually to become the United States of America. As such, Pennsylvania is rich with history. And yet, some locations seem to stick in our minds more than others. While I’m sure that most people could tell you that the “City of brotherly love” is Philadelphia, I could also assure you that they don’t know what the capital is (it’s Harrisburg, by the way). And while many could tell you the statistics of the Pittsburgh Steelers, I doubt they could go into much detail on the northernmost battle of the Civil War: Gettysburg. This week’s two films highlight some events and cities in Pennsylvania that have helped to shape the history of the state.
Length: 271 minutes / 4.52 hours
As mentioned in the intro, Gettysburg was the northernmost battle of the Civil War and a key turning-point for the war in general. After all, if the Union hadn’t stopped the Confederacy in Pennsylvania, who knows how far north the fighting could have progressed? Much of the Civil War was fought near the Mason-Dixon line, but occasionally it would surge further north or south depending on which side was winning. Gettysburg was the one surge into the north that was answered with an extensive battle where many from both sides lost their lives fighting for their ideals. While no one generally wins in war, the Union put down their foot to make sure that the battle would not progress that far north ever again.
Now, the movie Gettysburg goes into great detail on the events surrounding this momentous Pennsylvanian battle. Taking a strictly historical angle and packaging it in an entertaining way, Gettysburg shows the audience what it would have been like on the battlefield and in the camps. Sometimes we get so far separated from a historical event that we start to forget that these were real people fighting against each other, but this film helps bring some of the reality of the war back into our minds. Of course, now I can’t see Martin Sheen in any other movie without thinking about Robert E. Lee, but that’s just how well the film was cast.
Length: 125 minutes / 2.08 hours
Philadelphia, along with the state of Pennsylvania, were founded by William Penn. As a Quaker, Penn believed strongly in religious freedom and democracy. It’s no wonder that the meaning of Philadelphia is “city of brotherly love.” Of course, there has been a slight twisting of this definition when the romantic (aka “eros”) love is mixed in with brotherly love. This is partly why the clever title of Philadelphia is now associated with homosexuality and the discrimination against it. Now, I for one don’t necessarily condone homosexuality, but I also don’t want homosexuals to be harassed. As Christians, we should show the love of Christ to everyone, no matter their sexual orientation. There is no pecking order of sins, so we’re all technically in the same boat without the cleansing power of Christ’s blood.
Anyways, enough with my rant. Philadelphia stars Tom Hanks as recently fired attorney, Andrew Beckett, who is suing his former firm because they discriminated against him and his homosexual lifestyle. But the issue is deeper than that. Andrew Beckett has AIDS. Enlisting the help of Joe Miller (Denzel Washington), Andrew has to help Joe overcome some homophobia before AIDS overcomes him. It’s a race against time to see if Andrew can get justice before he dies from AIDS. And yet, with strong religious roots going deep into Pennsylvania’s history, Joe and Andrew really have their work cut out for them.
2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 Pennsylvania points of interest