Tuesday, 11 November 2014

A Walk With Death, 2013

This Tuesday, a short but interesting docu-drama for Overlooked Films, Audio & Video at Todd Mason’s blog Sweet Freedom.

© USPS
A Walk With Death is a short Civil War film made by one Logan Fulton. It is 8.56 minutes long and quite poignant. The film shows Union and Confederate soldiers at war, to the death, in what looks like a forest area. The combat first takes place with rifles, fired with deadly aim on both sides, and then with bayonets and bare hands. There is death everywhere as soldiers, in blue and grey, keep falling to the ground.

What makes the scene so affecting is the poetic narrative and haunting music in the background. The film is set to The Blue and the Gray, the famous poem by Francis Miles Finch (1827-1907), an American judge, poet, and academic associated with the early years of Cornell University. I had not heard of Finch or his poem before.

Francis Miles Finch
© Wikimedia Commons
Finch wrote the poem in memory of all those who died in the American Civil War. Its message is clear—although soldiers fight on opposing sides in a war, they are equal in death; be it victory or defeat, death spares no one, neither blue nor grey. Logan Fulton uses Finch’s poem with telling effect.

I will end by reproducing a few lines from The Blue and the Gray, courtesy National Regiment, where you can watch this short film and read the rest of the poem. The last stanza is the recurring theme of A Walk With Death.


By the flow of the inland river,
Whence the fleets of iron have fled,
Where the blades of the grave-grass quiver,
Asleep are the ranks of the dead:
Under the sod and the dew,
Waiting the judgement-day;
Under the one, the Blue,
Under the other, the Gray

These in the robings of glory,
Those in the gloom of defeat,
All with the battle-blood gory,
In the dusk of eternity meet:
Under the sod and the dew,
Waiting the judgement-day;
Under the laurel, the Blue,
Under the willow, the Gray

From the silence of sorrowful hours,
The desolate mourners go,
Lovingly laden with flowers
Alike for the friend and the foe;
Under the sod and the dew,
Waiting the judgement-day;
Under the roses, the Blue,
Under the lilies, the Gray

16 comments:

  1. You are right, Prashant. That is a very affecting short film. And poem. Thanks for sharing that.

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    1. Tracy, thank you, and you are welcome. I'm glad you liked it too. Short films, particularly those spanning a few minutes, need very tight scripts, I suppose. In the limited time Logan Fulton handled the theme of Civil War quite well.

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  2. Have never seen it but we have been to Gettsburg and were caught up with this most horrific battle. Perhaps we did see it there. They showed films in the visitor's center. Great poem.

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    1. Patti, thank you. I agree, it is a great poem. I read that it continues to be used widely, like the hymn "Footprints in the Sand," a favourite with me. I used the Gettysburg stamp for illustrative purpose. The internet is full of such short films and across different genres.

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  3. Very timely Prashant, thanks - not seen this before.

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    1. Sergio, thank you. I didn't realise next year would be the 150th year since the end of the Civil War, in 1865. I think it's one of those short films that come to one's attention via social media.

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  4. Just watched a video survey of students at Texas Tech University, many of whom could not name who had been in the Civil War or who won.

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    1. Charles, young Indians are by and large aware of Indian history, particularly the freedom struggle and its central figures, and many are also well-informed of the current political dispensation. This is thanks to the emphasis being laid on national issues and the importance of voting, especially by first-time voters.

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    1. David, I liked the way the poem is narrated in the backdrop of the war scene. It's also a nice way of making a short film or documentary.

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    1. Col, thank you. It was a surprise find for me.

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  7. We visited the battleground many years ago, and the memory remains haunting. It was the battle that turned the tide of a war that has never really ended.

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    1. Ron, that's an interesting perspective on the Civil War and one that never occurred to me. I can draw parallels with "untouchability" in my country. Abolished during independence, it exists ever so subtly in our midst.

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    2. That is an interesting statement about "the war that never ended." I never thought of it that way but very true. I remember (a long time ago) in high school the band would still play Dixie at football games (in Alabama). It felt very schizophrenic growing up there.

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    3. Tracy, thanks for your thoughts on Ron's feedback.

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