Last Full Measure unfilmed, loan unpaid

A cautionary tale for local government entities thinking about investing in Civil War movies:

Nine years after borrowing $300,000 from Washington County [MD], director Ron Maxwell still owes about $263,000 in principal and interest.

Maxwell borrowed the money in 2002, after making the Civil War film “Gods and Generals” in the Tri-State area, including Washington County.

The loan agreement gave Maxwell until 2005 to start working on another Civil War film, based on Jeff Shaara’s book “The Last Full Measure,” and to produce at least half of it in Washington County. Otherwise, Maxwell would have to repay the money, with interest, by 2010.

Records show that Maxwell last made a payment more than three years ago.

Maybe it’s time to chalk it up as a loss, which is what I did with the money I paid to see Gods and Generals.  Come to think of it, having seen Gods and Generals, I’d give Maxwell $300,000 to not make Last Full Measure.



Filed under Civil War, History and Memory

4 responses to “Last Full Measure unfilmed, loan unpaid

  1. Have you seen the new extended, “director’s cut” of G&G? It elicited some righteous outrage in some quarters for its new-found “political correctness,” complaining that (among other things) there’s a new subplot that depicts John Wilkes Booth “in an extremely negative light.” Imagine that.

    • Michael Lynch

      I haven’t seen it yet. Part of me is tempted to watch it, just to see if it makes any narrative sense out of the movie. The biggest problem I had with the theatrical release was the fact that there was no coherent story; it was just disjointed scenes from throughout the war, chosen seemingly at random and spliced together chronologically. Gettysburg had a manageable number of interesting main characters and an involving story arc; G&G was basically a pageant with no narrative focus at all. I know you have to make choices about what to include and what to leave out, but why meander among all those peripheral characters and then leave Antietam on the cutting room floor?

      I haven’t read the book, either, although I’ve heard good things about it. I loved The Killer Angels–it deserves its reputation as a masterpiece–but the only novel I’ve read by the younger Shaara is Rise to Rebellion, and I didn’t particularly care for it. I think Killer Angels works because it uses a single, dramatized event as an opportunity to meditate on the war’s larger themes. The elder Shaara knew that a novel has to follow the basic principles of dramatic structure, and he knew that there’s no point in writing historical fiction if you’re not going to use a little dramatic license to draw out the implications of the event. RtoR just seemed to drift too much, and adhered so slavishly to the documentary record about these people that the characters never got the chance to jump off the page. If you’re going to cover years’ worth of history and refrain from putting fictionalized thoughts and emotions into historical figures, then you might as well just write a non-fiction narrative. RtoR seemed to me to have all the weaknesses of fiction and none of its strengths.

      But that’s just my opinion. I rarely read fiction, and much of the fiction that I manage to read isn’t historical, so my critique of any historical novel probably isn’t worth much. Much historical fiction always seems to me like a waste of a good non-fiction subject. But there are a few works of historical fiction I admire greatly (Killer Angels, Steven Pressfield’s novels on the Greeks, David Nevin’s 1812, and Nicholas Griffin’s novel about Bartholomew Roberts, the pirate).


  2. I was shocked to hear that they had released an extended cut of G&G. The original edition was torture enough. I did not even know that he was trying to make Last Full Measure. I would have thought he’d cut bait. And yet, if it is released…I’ll probably go see it, sucker that I am. “Rise to Rebellion,” by the way, was fraught with inaccuracies. I couldn’t get through it.

    • Michael Lynch

      I was tempted to read the follow-up to RtoR, even though I didn’t like the original, just because of the subject matter, but I ultimately decided to pass on it. I might get around to it someday, but it’s doubtful.

      I wouldn’t mind seeing a mini-series version of Shaara’s Rev War books, though, just to get some good eighteenth-century battle scenes.


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