Some 150 years on, interest in the American Civil War (1861–65) is at an all-time high, no more so than among the thousands of people across the United States and Europe who participate in reenactments. They leave their jobs and homes behind to become battle-weary soldiers, courageous generals, dedicated nurses and even eager newspaper reporters, adopting not only the clothes of the era, but also the language, mannerisms and food.
In Battlefields of Honor, Mark Elson’s expressive images, themselves evoking the look and style of nineteenth-century photographs, capture the painstaking attention to detail that goes into such reenactments. Exploring such themes as the meticulous choreography frequently involved in the restaging of battles, the role women played in the conflict, and the behind-the-scenes work of artisans responsible for crafting replica uniforms, weaponry and utensils, this is a fascinating documentary essay on the men and women who feel an intense, often personal connection to a monumental period in America’s past.
Mark Elson is a photographer and film-maker who specializes in wet-plate processes.
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