Sunday, 18 November 2012

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1993: Richard Jordan in Gettysburg

Richard Jordan did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Brigadier General Lewis A. "Lo" Armistead in Gettysburg. 
Gettysburg is an excellent film that depicts the pivotal three day battle of Gettysburg that turned the tide of the American Civil War.  

Gettysburg as a film depicts both the Union and Confederate sides of the war. The Union side is shown mostly through Jeff Daniels's strong performance as professor turned soldier Colonel Joshua Chamberlain, but on the confederate side there are many men spotlighted the most compelling one being General Armistead. Armistead is a General in the Confederate army. He is an important General but he is below several others in terms of rank. His part acts as one of the most poignant though due to the fact that his role portrays well what exactly the struggle of the Civil War truly was. 

What is persuasive throughout Jordan's performance is the anguish in Armistead knowing that his friend Winfield Scott Hancock (Brian Mallon) is a general in the Union army and is on the opposite end of the battle field. The two personify the terrible divide caused by the war, and Jordan makes the most in showing just how terrible of thing the war really was in the way he separated friends and brothers. Even though we never see anything that takes place before the battle or any events in the lives of these men before this time Jordan still with an aspiring ease creates this history between Armistead and Hancock. 

What is spectacular is that Jordan really just through his own performance which never interacts with Mallon ever in the film, he creates one of the most powerful friendships in a film. Jordan does this especially well in just the sheer enthusiasm that he displays within Armistead from his very first scene as he asks one of his superiors if he knows anything about the whereabouts of his friend. Although Hancock is very much so his enemy on this battlefield, Jordan genuinely portrays the love within Armistead that even despite his current divide the friendship still lies well in his heart. 

Importantly in Jordan's performance is the fact that he does not try to portray Armistead as a man who is not very much for his cause. Jordan not only shows that Armistead very much believes in the fight right to the end of the battle, but in fact gives the most stirring moment in the film on the confederate side of the battlefield. His speech at the end of the film is very well portrayed by Jordan and is able to honestly create the sentiment that was able to lead all of the men into an ultimately fatal charge. Jordan does not create this sentiment as something foolhardy but more properly is able to convey the conviction of their beliefs that compelled them to their demise. 

The friendship aspect of Armistead is the most important one though, and Jordan absolutely does his best to realize just how deeply this weighs on Armistead. In the scene where Armistead tells his superior General Longstreet (Tom Berenger) about the last time he talked to Hancock. Jordan is incredible in this scene as he so well brings vividly to life the moment in which the two saw each other for the last time. Jordan beautifully creates the jumbled emotions that Armistead is going through in his mind as he does his best to try and get through the story. There is only an emotional truth in this moment from Jordan that is just a stunning scene from Jordan showing exactly why Armistead cannot lose his anguish. 

What is amazing though is the scene I referred to before is not the most powerful one. At the end of the film Armistead leads a group in the fatal charge, but his severely wounded during it. As he lays most likely going to die he tries to get a message through to his friend only learning that his friend has also been wounded. Jordan makes this final scene of his performance as well as his career one to be truly remembered. Jordan is utterly heartbreaking as he portrays the intense pain and overwhelming regret he feels in what seems to be his last moments knowing he will never sees his friend again. It is a devastating end to his character that is portrayed so perfectly by Jordan, he makes it the most moving moment in the entire film. This is an outstanding performance by Robert Jordan that pierces through the whole of this over four hour film.


JamDenTel said...

This performance gains additional weight when you realize that Jordan would die not long after of a brain tumor.

RatedRStar said...

ye I was crying quite a lot at this =(

dshultz said...

I absolutely love this movie, a real under-appreciated gem. The whole cast was fantastic in my opinion, but I have to agree, Richard Jordan went above and beyond and was tremendous in his role. "Not both of us, not all of us!" simply broke my heart.

Louis Morgan said...

Yes it is a terrific ensemble.