The Andersonville Trial (Play) and Andersonville (Film)
A play, The Andersonville Trial, and two television films, The Andersonville Trial and Andersonville, have focused on Sumter County's Andersonville, the most notorious prison camp of the Civil War (1861-65).
In 1959 dramatist Saul Levitt wrote the play The Andersonville Trial, which was produced that same year by William Darrid, Daniel Hollywood, and Eleanore Saidenberg. The award-winning play recounts the trial of Captain Henry Wirz, the Swiss doctor who commanded the Confederate garrison at Andersonville. Eleven years later, in 1970, George C. Scott, a cast member in the original Broadway production of Levitt's play, directed a critically acclaimed film adaptation also entitled The Andersonville Trial. In 1996 Andersonville, a film produced by David W. Rintels and directed by John Frankenheimer, appeared on Turner Network Television (TNT). This miniseries followed the experiences of Union soldiers imprisoned at the camp.
In Peabody Award in 1971.
ThePulitzer Prize–winning novel of the same name, published in 1955. The story follows a Massachusetts regiment from its capture through its stay at Andersonville. Frankenheimer constructed the set of Andersonville by building a stockade and barracks modeled after the original prison, and the cast and crew filmed on location in Turin (Coweta County), Georgia; North Carolina; and California. Carmen Argenziano, Jarrod Emick, Frederic Forrest, and Ted Marcoux star in the miniseries.
Unlike The Andersonville Trial, the miniseries emphasizes tensions that emerge among the prisoners themselves. The plot focuses on the Union soldiers as they dig tunnels in an attempt to escape, resist dysentery by soaking up rainwater in their clothes to drink, and fight Union raiders, other captives who murder and steal from fellow prisoners. The climactic scene of the miniseries focuses on the trial of the raiders, in which they are found guilty.
Frankenheimer, whose long Hollywood career includes the films The Birdman of Alcatraz (1962), The Manchurian Candidate (1962), and Seven Days in May (1964), claimed that Andersonville was the most difficult film he ever directed. Andersonville garnered generally positive reviews from critics, and Frankenheimer received an Emmy Award for his direction.
Media Gallery: The Andersonville Trial (Play) and Andersonville (Film)