XL Popcorn – Sherman’s March

List Item: Watch all of the “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die”
Progress: 769/1007Title: Sherman’s March
Director: Ross McElwee
Year: 1985
Country: USA

Well, that ended up being two documentaries in a row – one brief one and now one that’s way too long for its own good. I didn’t have a poor reaction to this because I was expecting an insightful documentary about General Sherman’s campaign in the Civil War (for that, I would just re-watch the excellent Ken Burns documentary), but rather to how incredibly self-indulgent Sherman’s March is.

Originally it was going to be a historical documentary, but after a break-up devastated the director he instead decided to take the grant money and spend it on this meandering documentary detailing his problems with women. Watching this, I kept waiting for him to purchase and don a fedora as we end up spending two and a half hours with him going through the same cycle of him finding a girl, obsessing and then her ending up with someone else. Each time, the bulk of the blame ends up with the woman and he ends up in a spiral that results in his nightmares about nuclear proliferation.

I’d have been able to swallow this film more if the director had the charisma to carry the movie. But no, so much of it is us sounding time with his mopey self as makes the same mistakes again and again. The film only comes alive when he gives time over to his subjects. One of them, a Southern woman who tries to set him up with a sweet Mormon singer, is a true highlight. Honestly, I’d watch a series where she takes us on a tour through the South and tries to be a professional matchmaker.

Sherman’s March is one of those films that was lauded at the time, but really would come under serious fire if made now. The entire thing is just an epic length documentary about a man’s inability to interact with women and ten compare himself to the genius of Genral Sherman. It takes nerve to make a film like this, but I really wish I didn’t have to endure it for as long as I did.

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