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Gods and Generals [HD DVD]

Stephen Lang , Robert Duvall , Ronald F. Maxwell    PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)   HD DVD
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (466 customer reviews)
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• IMPORTANT NOTICE: This high-definition disc will only play in an HD DVD player. It will not play in a Blu-ray player or a PS3.


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Product Description

Product Description

A sweeping epic charting the early years of the Civil War and how campaigns unfolded from Manassas to the Battle of Fredericksburg, this prequel to the film Gettysburg explores the motivations of the combatants and examines the lives of those who waited at home.

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Packaging for the director's cut is handsome and impressive, with a lengthy essay by director Ronald F. Maxwell, bios of various characters and the actors who portray them, and more. But the big news for Gods and Generals fans, and Civil War aficionados in general, is the inclusion of a full hour's worth of previously unseen footage, bringing the total running time to a hefty 280 minutes. Detailed by Maxwell in a new introduction accompanying this release, the additions include the lead-up to the battle of Antietam and the battle itself (20,000 men died there, the biggest single-day toll of the entire war); a variety of scenes involving Shakespearean actor John Wilkes Booth, including one in which he turns down an opportunity to meet Abraham Lincoln, whom he would later assassinate; and a few bits of camp life with brothers Joshua and Thomas Chamberlain (Jeff Daniels and C. Thomas Howell, respectively).

Also new are two commentary tracks, one with Maxwell and executive producer Ted Turner and one with the director and two historical advisers. Three featurettes, ranging from 14 to 22 minutes long, were part of the original video release in 2003. They include a portrait of the ultra-devout Confederate general Stonewall Jackson; details of the lengths to which the filmmakers went to make the film as authentic as possible; and "Journey to the Past," a making-of piece in which Maxwell and actress Donzaleigh Abernathy, daughter of civil rights leader Ralph Abernathy, discuss the issue of slavery and its depiction in the movie. --Sam Graham --This text refers to the Blu-ray edition.


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Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A quiet, classically styled tragedy June 27 2003
Format:DVD
I saw this movie at the Premiere in DC, and I was blown away by it. The critics saw the flaws in the film, I saw them too, but it all worked together for me. I was impressed that someone actually pulled off making an epic, and the aesthetic beauty of the film, and the genuine warmth, heart, and soul it had, something many a movie lacks these days.
Quick rundown of flaws: Some of the history is un-researched (but what can you expect from Hollywood?), especially concerning the costumes. But, despite complaints, the dialogue is correct (yep, those speeches were how they talked. Just go to your local college's library and pull out a war-time newspaper chock full of "going away speeches". Oy),a nd it would have been a shame to revert to monosylables. The script is untidy, but one must keep in mind that this film was originally cut from a 6 hour version, still Maxwell could have done much better with the screenplay. The women in the film were rather awkward and unecessary, though, unlike many, I liked the feminine touch. Some scenes seem to come out of nowhere and lead into nothing, and the movie moves quickly, jumpng over huge portions of time. The movie doesn't follow the book closely at all, choosing to make this the "Stonewall Jackson Movie", which can be an ambiguous (either negative or positive) choice, depending on the viewer. Thus, a great many of the beloved characters and scenes from the book are out.
But on top of all it's flaws, the film has charisma and heart, and does work, at least for me, despite what many of it's critics think. It doesn't feel cliched; rather, it feels fresh. The battle scenes, though lacking in gore, are extremely well choreographed and awe-inspiring.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a provocative film Feb. 10 2004
By A Customer
Format:DVD
Gods and Generals struck a raw nerve in the body politic. That's because when it comes to the Civil War people have already taken sides, often times without even knowing it. Most have assimilated and accepted the official, public education version of what happened as an article of faith. Abraham Lincoln is not just a man with flaws and qualities, not simply a shrewd politician and formidable leader. In this sub-conscious universe he has been elevated to the position of a deity. To question the received wisdom is to question one's very existence.
One has only to read many of the reviews in these pages to see the glib facility with which many have swallowed, hook, line and sinker the triumphalist propaganda always spread and taught by the victors - in all places at all times. It is just too discomfiting to think, even for a moment, that the American Civil War may not have been necessary. That all those lives need not have been lost. That all the destruction need not have taken place. That the horrible institution of slavery could and would have been abolished , as it was in the rest of the western hemisphere, by peaceful means.
Gods and Generals is not a perfect film. I cannot disagree with many of the artistic criticisms leveled against it. Its distinction however, arises from its soul. It is perhaps the most rigorously honest historical film in recent memory. It is truly, not superficially provocative because it forces you to re-think everything. It is the only film on the present scene to have truly earned and deserves the label, anti-war. For its fierce artistic independence and its intellectual honesty I give it five stars.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Underrated Jan. 16 2007
Format:DVD
Even though I can understand where the bad press about this film comes from, I believe that those that are fairly knowledgeable about the Civil War will enjoy the historical accuracy in this film. Real, oftentimes famous quotes are used by the main characters. The KFC eating southerners present in Gettysburg are absent in Maxwell's movie as well. Even though it's fairly long and takes some appreciation of the fine details, this film is underrated and doesn't deserve the bad reputation that it has received.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great film Feb. 13 2004
Format:DVD
Although I am life-long Civil War buff, I have always had difficulty understanding how a man could take up arms against neighbors and relatives of another state. Gods and Generals allowed me the experience of appreciating the human side of this war and insight into the historical and spiritual complexities that haunted each side. The result was overwelmingly powerful.
I've seen the film several times and discovered new meaning and understanding with each viewing. It is rich, alive and authentic film making.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Title sounds good Oct. 19 2008
Format:DVD
This was a must see for me after watching Gettysberg. It was OK. A few of the problems I had with it, is where was Tom Berenger?, maybe he got the script and decided to pass. Even Robert Duvall gave a sad showing. Everytime an actor opened there mouth I felt like I was at church, it was all over the top speeches, common. The battle sequences sucked, I mean all the bayonets were obviously plastic the way they wobbled back and forth. It looked like alot of it was computer animated, and the special effects seemed so outdated and looked, well, cheap. All in all it looked like a bad made for TV movie, the only reason I gave it three stars is, I was a Gettysberg fan, and if you edit this movie yourself by closing your eyes and drifting away everytime jackson opened his mouth, then its ok. The only time I though this movie had me at attention and emotionally connected was when Jackson whips out his sword and yells "you are the first brigade". Id rather sit down and watch North and South from beginning to end, its to bad, I liked Gettysberg and had Higher hopes for this.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
This dvd and Gettysburg are the best.
Published 1 month ago by Larry Melnyk
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very well done
Published 3 months ago by sherri corbin
2.0 out of 5 stars A great history lesson
Way too many stilted speeches. The writer was obviously overly impressed with the words these people spoke. A poor representation of the human element of this historical event.
Published 15 months ago by Scott Wallace
1.0 out of 5 stars Bloated
I loved Gettysburg and both these books, but I don't think I have disliked a sequel (or prequel?) more than this one. Gettysburg felt like a 90 minute film- it flew by. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Rob Campbell
2.0 out of 5 stars ultimate let down by the battle sequences
This is a long and detailed period film, lots of talking and lots of action, clocking at 4.5 hours.

The actors all give great and committed performances. Read more
Published on Sept. 7 2012 by Dr. Kai Wang
1.0 out of 5 stars Gettysburg so good, this so bad.
I am only adding my review to the many already submitted in the hope that the average review rating comes down from 3 stars. Read more
Published on Nov. 2 2009 by Mr. R. Hippman
1.0 out of 5 stars Gods and General?
They should have titled this film 'Gods and General' as it focused primarily on Stonewall Jackson.

After seeing such films as Glory, I had high hopes for this movie. Read more
Published on Oct. 31 2006 by J. Gravel
1.0 out of 5 stars I keep wanting to like this movie, but....
Glory was a great civil war film, it had characters with character, it had a story with a story, it had a believable premise. Read more
Published on July 10 2004 by Ken Irvin
1.0 out of 5 stars So much preaching you can skip church for a year!
Save your $ and just watch the excellent "Gettysburg" again. This one is simply terrible, almost painful to watch. If this was an accurate portrayal of Gen. Read more
Published on July 8 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars candy for the history buff
I like to study history, and the civil war is one of my favorite points in American History. Mainly because it was so controversial, the reasons, the bad guys, the death toll,... Read more
Published on July 7 2004 by A. M Robertson
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