Gabor Boritt: Civil War historian's life explored in son's film

Historians in the News

Standing at the edge of Gettysburg's battlefield, Gabor Boritt once again delivered his classic speech regarding the famous three-day-long battle.

Using plenty of animated gestures, Boritt pointed out troop alignments in the field, showed how the landscape played a decisive role and described deadly mistakes made by both the Confederate and Union sides. It's a story Boritt, a Civil War history professor at Gettysburg College, knows well and is almost always happy to share.

But this time Boritt was not showing the battle to one of his seminar students or distinguished colleagues, or even to an interested tourist. No, this time Boritt was explaining the famous event to a camera crew, early in the morning and against his better judgment.
"A big part of this film is that he didn't want to do it," said Jake Boritt, a filmmaker and Gabor's son. "It seems to be at the crux of the film. That this world-famous historian doesn't want to go over his own history."

In 2003, Gabor's son Jake, a documentary filmmaker, decided to film one of the most difficult stories he has ever tried to record: his father's.

Titled "Budapest to Gettysburg," the film followed Gabor as he rediscovered his own history, with the help of his son - from his birth in war-torn Hungary to his involvement in the 1956 Hungarian Revolution to his escape to the United States and to his eventual academic success.

"It is a great story about overcoming tremendous odds to get where he is today," Jake said. "Any filmmaker would love to make this story. It's just that I'm in the unique position of being the only filmmaker who could do it."
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