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Gods and Generals (2003 – PG-13)

March 1, 2009

Originally posted on October 10, 2003


Story

If you are only interested in seeing historical depictions of military action for the blood, guts, suffering, and death, then Gods and Generals is certainly not for you. However, if you wish to gain a greater understanding of the men who lead, then Gods and Generals is an exemplary film to watch.

I was surprised and impressed to see that the movie was not painted with a Union bias. In fact, the greater part of the film focuses upon General Jackson and to a lesser extent General Lee and their motivation and character, although Colonel Chamberlain of the Union forces is also similarly portrayed.

The film does show large scale combat, but does so in a tasteful and thoughtful manner. Blood and gore is kept to a minimum while at the same time done in a manner that does not betray the true brutality and violent nature of war. We need not be inundated with graphic displays to know that war is horrible, and Gods and Generals demonstrates this point clearly.

Story = 20 Can’t beat the truth.

Cast

I was once again amazed at the acting prowess of Stephen Lang as he portrayed General Jackson with the dignity and honor he deserves. It is hard to believe that Lang also played Ike Clanton in Tombstone. He is surely one of the most underrated actors in Hollywood today. Duvall and Daniels too are to be given praise for their fine portrayals of Lee and Chamberlain respectively. Bruce Boxleitner, Mira Sorvino, William Sanderson, and a myriad of other known actors can also be seen. Throughout the movie I was thinking, “Holy cow, that’s the guy from (insert various movies here)!”

Cast = 20

Soundtrack/Score

Not bad, but not epic either. I thoroughly enjoyed the inclusion of the Bonnie Blue Flag. All in all, the score doesn’t detract, but doesn’t do a lot for the film either.

Soundtrack/Score = 14

Quote/Catch Phrase

Hmm, no real catch phrase here. So, instead, I will quote one of my favorite lines from Robert E. Lee, “Duty is the sublimest word in the English language.” May not be fair to the film, but as Ben Stiller says in The Royal Tenenbaums, “Them’s the rules.”

Quote/Catch Phrase = 0

Rewatchability

The movie did a fair job of representing Southern motivation, but could have been a tad more clear. We kind of got the idea of state’s rights as being the central issue, but they needed to hammer it home. The film should have been a mini-series for TV. It was long, but not nearly long enough. This story is just better suited for TV.

Rewatchability = 10

Total Score = 64

All in all, I highly recommend this film to anyone wishing to glean a greater understanding as to the motivating factors contributing to war in general and the American Civil War specifically. If you know you have a short attention span and/or a dulled intellectual interest then stay away from Gods and Generals. You might do something foolish… like learn something.

(EDIT from 2009 – This movie could have been WAY better than it was. After a second viewing, I’ve decided the soundtrack was inadequate, and the pacing nearly impossible to overcome. They should have focused on only Stonewall, and then done another film focusing on Chamberlain. Best yet, it should have been a miniseries with one or two hour segments for those two, Lee, and possibly a few others. At any rate, Rewatchability should have been scored 0)

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