It’s easy to romanticize history and to imagine the inhabitants of bygone eras as staid, staunch characters who bore hardship without complaint, eating salted pork for fun, and sleeping on beds made of actual straw for rest. (Did I read a lot of Little House On The Prairie as a child? You bet your ribbon candy, I did.) It’s somewhat less easy to picture those same people as doofy, prank-playing chuckleheads, but it’s important to give our forefathers a little leeway. Early Americans could be goofballs, too!
Director Zachary Treitz attempts to marry those seemingly warring (guffaw) ideals in his Tribeca Film Festival premiere, Men Go To Battle, which boasts a serious-sounding premise (a pair of brothers end up separated by the American Civil War) with the kind of good-natured spirit that marked Stepbrothers. No, really.
Treitz’s film—co-written by indie darling Kate Lyn Sheil, who also co-stars in the feature—centers on the bickering Mellon brothers, Francis and Henry, who have spent most of active wartime simply trying to hold their ramshackle farm together. Although the brothers’ isolation from the world appears to insulate them from the worst parts of the war itself, once a seemingly normal brotherly battle goes too far, Henry strikes out on his own, which is probably not a good idea for either of them, given the state of the world.
It sounds serious, but as our exclusive teaser trailer reveals, Henry and Francis’ constant ribbing isn’t the kind of thing we’d normally expect to see from a “serious” war film. That doesn’t mean it’s not intriguing as hell, though.
The trail of the tape
Title: Men Go To Battle
Director: Zachary Treitz
Screenwriters: Kate Lyn Sheil, Zachary Treitz
Cast: Tim Morton, David Maloney, Rachel Korine, Kate Lyn Sheil
Release date: April 17 (Tribeca premiere)
The entire trailer in one line of dialogue: “Your brother, Henry.”
The entire trailer in one screengrab:
See? Not really your mama’s Civil War film. (Unless she’s into this kind of thing! Hi, Mom!) Despite its offbeat tone, Treitz and Sheil pulled directly from history for their script, including Treitz’s own family war archive. (Treitz and a number of his crew members are all Kentucky natives with deep roots in the area.) Portions of the film also include turns by Civil War reenactors, lending it a hardened veracity to accompany its apparently wild spirit.