Gods and Generals [HD DVD] [Import]
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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.
The more you know about the Civil War, the more you'll appreciate Gods and Generals and the painstaking attention to detail that Gettysburg writer-director Ronald F. Maxwell has invested in this academically respectable 220-minute historical pageant. In adapting Jeffrey Shaara's 1996 novel (encompassing events of 1861-63, specifically the Virginian battles of Bull Run, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville), Maxwell sacrifices depth for scope while focusing on the devoutly religious "Stonewall" Jackson (Stephen Lang), whose Confederate campaigns endear him to Gen. Robert E. Lee (Robert Duvall, giving the film's most subtle performance). Battles are impeccably recreated using 7,500 Civil War re-enactors and sanitized PG-13 violence, their authenticity compromised by tasteful discretion and endless scenes of grandiloquent dialogue. Still, as the first part of a trilogy that ends with The Last Full Measure, this is a superbly crafted, instantly essential film for Civil War study. For all its misguided priorities, Gods and Generals is a noble effort, honoring faith and patriotism with the kind of reverence that has all but vanished from American film but provides abundant proof that historical accuracy is no guarantee of great storytelling. --Jeff Shannon --This text refers to the DVD edition.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
I've seen the film several times and discovered new meaning and understanding with each viewing. It is rich, alive and authentic film making.
The actors all give great and committed performances.
The sets and costumes are all very good to look at. Though some may object to all that talk about God and slavery or the one-sided perspective , even preachy in tone, I shall let those pass.
What cannot be ignored is how bad the battle sequences are filmed and edited. Tha camera angles are almost invariably the same, the Union soliders approach from the right or center, the Confederates from the left or the center. You don't see the whole perspective of the battle fields, you see snap shots and parts of the actions which are shot mostly in close up.
The director seems to want you to know there are a lot of actors around (hundreds if not thousands, CGI or real), but you don't have the feeling the battles are done large scale, because they are edited piece meals, and lots of it don't make sense.
Eg, a canonade was fired off by 8 or 10 cannons simultaneously, the next scene you see one single explosion on the ground....
the 20000 dead after the Battle of Antietam, where are they on screen ?? I counted may be a 100, here again one could use CGI effect but was not....one doesn't sense the horror of wars like one feels when confronted with the hospital scene in Gone with the Wind or the numerous albeit smaller scale scenes in The Pacific which were done so realistically, gut wrenching is that TV series from HBO.
the 82nd regiment advances onto the Confederate position, are they advancing uphill ?? not quite sure because they (or we) never see the opponents on the same canvas. Very few action scenes take into account of both sides on the same shot...Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
The Other Best ever Civil War movie made. If you are a History buff than this movie is a MUST have. The other Best ever Civil War movie is "Gettysburg". Read morePublished 10 months ago by Tony