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NCAA basketball? Meh. History Movie Madness? Heck yeah!

Just so you know. I’m not impressed with the NCAA basketball tournament. March madness? March boring maybe. Too few upsets. Lots of blowouts. And not enough interesting story lines. I could have just picked all the tops seeds to win and I’d be at the top of my bracket pool.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still gonna watch. Just not a ton of excitement so far.

So when I ran across the American Battlefield Trust’s History Movie Madness Bracket Contest my weekend was saved. You’ve probably heard of the Trust back when it was called the Civil War Trust. It started as a group dedicated to preserving Civil War battlefield sites. It’s now also working to do the same for Revolutionary War and War of 1812 sites. So . . . they’re good people.

And now I love the Trust if even more because we get to apply our bracketology skills to history movies. I’ve written about my favorite history movies before (and am planning an update soon) so having the chance to break down 32 movies to find the all time best is right up my alley.

The Trust starts off with by claiming somehow that Gods and Generals is the best movie ever:

We all know Gods and Generals is the best history movie of all time, or is it? Join us for History Movie Madness, where with your help, we will crown the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, or Civil War movie champion!

Clearly they’re confused about what constitutes a quality movie. (Spoiler alert. Gods and Generals doesn’t make it out of the first round.) But I love the idea of a movie bracket. I am so in.

The instructions to play are pretty simple:

Download the bracket PDF, fill it out, take a picture of it, and submit your History Movie Madness Bracket to bracket@battlefields.org between 9 am, Tuesday, March 19th and 11:59 pm, Tuesday, March 26th.

(You did notice the Tuesday deadline, right?)

And then from Wednesday, March 27th to Sunday, April 7th,  you’ll have the chance to vote for your favorite in a series of Facebook polls on the American Battlefield Trust Facebook Page. On Monday, April 8th, the Trust will convene a panel of mystery historians to debate the Final Four until they emerge with the champion.

Facebook Poll Voting Schedule 

Date Poll –  Live from 9 am – 11:59 pm on the day they are scheduled
March 27th, 2019
  • Gettysburg vs. The General
  • The Patriot vs. The Conspirator
  • Gone with the Wind vs. They Died with Their Boots On
  • Glory vs. Andersonville
March 28th, 2019
  • Shenandoah vs. Free State of Jones
  • The Buccaneer vs. Birth of a Nation (2016)
  • Benedict Arnold: A Question of Honor vs. The Hunley
  • Django Unchained vs. Johnny Tremain
March 29th, 2019
  • The Crossing vs. John Paul Jones
  • John Adams vs. Major Dundee
  • Dances With Wolves vs. Twelve Years a Slave
  • Gangs of New York vs. Mutiny
March 30th, 2019
  • Ride With the Devil vs. The Horse Soldiers
  • Cold Mountain vs. The Red Badge of Courage
  • Lincoln vs. Revolution
  • 1776 vs. Gods and Generals
March 31st, 2019 Second Round – 2 polls
April 1st, 2019 Second Round – 2 polls
April 2nd, 2019 Second Round – 2 polls
April 3rd, 2019 Second Round – 2 polls
April 4th, 2019 Elite 8 – 1 Poll
April 5th, 2019 Elite 8 – 1 Poll
April 6th, 2019 Elite 8 – 1 Poll
April 7th, 2019 Elite 8 – 1 Poll
April 8th, 2019 Facebook Live Final 4 Championship Round

If you’re genius enough to submit a perfect bracket, you’ll walk away with a copy of Civil War Battlefields: Walking the Trails of History. And bragging rights. Lots and lots of bragging rights.

I’ll be honest. I haven’t seen all of the movies in the bracket. But I haven’t seen all 68 teams in the NCAA tournament either. So I’m okay faking my way through this bracket the same way I did my basketball one. And the criteria for the winners is about as loose for the movies as it is for the NCAA. Pick your faves based on leading actor or director or time period or most significant event or most historically accurate or well, whatever you decide. My wive’s 5th grade class picked basketball winners based on best mascot so . . . there’s a lot of leeway here. (Gonzaga Zags BTW.)

I’ve posted my entry below. Feel free to troll my picks.

(Not super interested in the History Movie Bracket? The American Battlefield Trust still has you covered. They have some awesome site and resources for you to explore. There’s a great set of Civil War curriculum materials and a ton of teacher resources including traveling trunks, teacher institutes, and journals for both students and you. And you’ll also love their travel itineraries – perfect for actually traveling to the different battlefields. But you can also use these as part of your instruction. Students could use them as examples to create their own, you could ask kids to rate itineraries based on battle importance, or use them as part of a VR tour.)

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Glenn is a curriculum and tech integration specialist, speaker, and blogger with a passion for technology and social studies. He delivers engaging professional learning across the country with a focus on consulting, presentations, and keynotes. Find out more about Glenn and how you might learn together by going to his Speaking and Consulting page.

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