Okay movie with some serious flaws
I am an avid Civil War history buff as well as a serious reenactor so I might look at this movie a little differently from your average movie watcher. First, I think Ron Maxwell made a serious mistake by attempting to use some of the same actors for the same roles as he used in Gettysburg. Gods and Generals technically should have been the first movie made in the Shaara trilogy since it deals with the beginning of the Civil War but since The Killer Angels (the book the movie Gettysburg was based on) was written first in the 1970s that work actually predated Gods and Generals, which was not written until much later. I thought Jeff Daniels portrayal of Col. Joshua Chamberlain was exceptional in Gettysburg but in God and Generals when Daniels reprised that role he looked older, heavier, and basically uninterested and unmotivated. Why would he look this way? Because he actually is older and heavier in this film in a role that if anything he should have looked younger and more fit in than Gettysburg since he is portraying a more youthful Chamberlain in Gods and Generals. That is just one example but there are several others in the film as well. Also, how does one make a Civil War movie about the first two years of the war and completely omit the Battle of Antietam (Sharpsburg) in 1862? That battle still earns the honor of being our nation's single bloodiest day in its history but yet it is not included at all in the movie! Terrible mistake! I understand it was filmed but it ended up on the cutting room floor in order to make the movie shorter in length! But yet they included way too much footage of the Battle of Fredericksburg, which just seemed to drag on and on. Also, on a technical note, when Robert E. Lee went to Washington, DC in 1861 to meet with Mr. Blair on President Lincoln's request to offer Lee generalship in the Union army, Lee would have actually appeared much younger than the gray-headed and bearded Lee that Robert Duvall portrayed. Maxwell decided to use the image of Lee that everyone is most familiar with but it is not historically accurate as Lee actually had brownish-red hair at the beginning of the war and it did not turn significantly gray until well into the war. On the positive side, the movie is beautifully filmed and the soundtrack, although not nearly as powerful and memorable as the music in Gettysburg, is for the most part well done. The high point of the movie for me is Stephen Lang's portrayal of General "Stonewall" Jackson. Lang had a small role in Gettysburg, playing General George Pickett but in Gods and Generals he completely dominates the movie. Jackson's character is complex to say the least (see James I. Robertson's monumental book "Stonewall Jackson"). Robertson's book was used extensively to accurately portray Jackson in this movie and Lang seemed as if he knew Jackson's spirit and personality completely. There can be little doubt that Lang took this challenge very seriously to recreate an American legend as faithfully correct as possible and he succeeds. I would have to rate Lang's role as Jackson as one of the best all-time performances of an actor portraying a historical figure. Robert Duvall or Martin Sheen as Lee? Personally, I would have liked to have seen Sheen brought back to reprise his role as Lee as he did a commendable job in Gettysburg but I understand he was unavailable or just not interested. In summary, a movie worth watching if for no other reason than Stephen Lang.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
Gods and General
This movie follows the American Civil War from the early days in 1861
to the battle of Chancellorsville in 1863 - including the battles of
Manassas (Bull Run); Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville- and follows
the heros of the North and South who defended their nations honor. Robert
Duvall plays Gen. Robert E. Lee who leads the Confederates; Stephen Lang
plays Gen. Stonewall Jackson and Jeff Daniels plays Union Col. Joshua L.
Chamberlain, a Bowdoin College professor who fights for the North and leads
a regiment during the 3 battles. This is a very realistic 're-enactment'
of the actual battles and shows the Northern Armies attempt to end the
war fast - at Bull Run. The Confederate defense against a hopeless Union
attack in late 1862 - the pain of a winter campaign, and the suffering of
the cold camps during that winter. Possibly the greatest of all Southern
victories at Chancellorsville-but shows the loss of Stonewall Jackson-
Lee's 'Right Arm'. All done very nicely-and well directed by Ron Maxwell-
who prior to this had directed the TBS production of 'Gettysburg'. This
movie is a must for history students and devotees as well as collectors
of war movies and American History. If you like these types of movies,
you will certainly enjoy this one. Great for a nights entertainment for
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
Gods & Generals What a Movie A+++++++
One of the main reasons I LOVE this movie is because my husband is one of the extra's during the Chancellorville Battle he is one of the men that are running to invade the Union Army that are asleep in their tents..
But The whole Movie so will done by Ron Maxwell.. The cast was full of unforgettable actors who brough theses war heros to life once again.. BRAVO to
Stephen Lang for his wonderful preformance of Stone Wall Jackson.. And Robert Duval's performance of Robert E. Lee.. They and many other wonderful actors really did theses hero's justice..
Plus just to give you SOME secrets.. The actor that betrays Commander Stewart
is the "REAL" Commander Stewarts Nephew.. ALL the soliders that you see in the battles and what not are "REAL" REENACTORS.. They do this all the time this is their hobby going out and betraying our History during the Civil War..
This is also a second part to a three part book series that was started by Jeff Shaara's father "MICHAEL SHAARA" who wrote "KILLER ANGELS" but many of you know this by another name "GETTYSBURG".. the Third installment to this series is called "THE LAST FULL MEASURE" this takes place after Gettysburg.
You will not be sorry.. Getting this Movie. weather your a history Buff, Civil war Buff, or love any of the many actors and actress you will want this in your library..
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
Gods and Generals
The orchestra should have stayed home. The music not only overwhelmed, but virtually destroyed the magnificent panoply of Civil War infantry in action, taking what would, most certainly, have been a world class platinum award production. Robert Duvall was much more nearly convincing as General Lee than was Martin Sheen in 'Gettysburg', another extraordinary docudrama requiring only the 'field music' and the ad hoc performances typical of the time; again, the production was virtually destroyed by the orchestra.
In many of the battle scenes, the orders of the officers, noncoms and file closers can almost be made out over the racket made by all the dameed stringed instruments; with no orchestra, the impact of 'Pickett's Charge' would have been, I think, absulutely stunning, the same dismal fact is present in 'Gods and Generals'. The Union attack against Marye's Heights suffers much from having the orders drowned out, although the advance of the Union infantry appears to be true to the contemporary observation that 'the troops went forward hunched over, as though walking against a heavy rain.'
Bruce Boxleitner is okay as Longstreet, but not really convincing in the character.
I don't know that everybody on the Union side was fighting to free anybody, since most of the Northern troops had no experience of slaves; I know that my family's field journals and correspondence make no mention of slaves, slavery or any particular interest in freeing anybody; not until 1864 do they begin to show any attention to 'coloreds' or 'negroes', the few references note that now that they are free in Union occuppied areas they are lost because there is no provision whatever for them, there is no cash in the south to hire labor, and work for the Union military is very haphazard, consisting mostly of burying the dead of both sides. I don't know if any house slaves discussed their situations with any Union troops or not (as is shown at Fredricksburg when the federal troops briefly occuppied the area), but I'd doubt that such a conversation ever took place. Artistic license can only be stretched so far.
Over all, because of the detrimental effect of the overloud and tedious music, I'd rate 'God and Generals' from so-so to pretty good; If this, Gettysburg and The Last Full Measure were available without the orchestra, and the politically correct fabricated theme of slavery, I think that they would be very nearly etermal classics, military docudrama the way it ought to be done; as they are, they'okay as entertainment, but I'd get good condition used copies and not spring for new ones.
Great Movie for Civil War Buff, So-So if You are Not
Beautiful color, exacting attention to detail, great period piece. It is a must have companion piece to the movie "Gettysburg." and I am looking forward to the last movie in the trilogy "Last Full Measure."
That being said, for non-Civil War buffs, the movie is too long, and it contains way too many preachy speeches. The speeches are mostly historically accurate, but sound clunky to the modern ear. Jeff Daniels (Chamberlain) steals every scene he is in, as in "Gettysburg." I can't decide if Robert Duvall or Martin Sheen is a better Robert E. Lee.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.