Kevin Conway often cites reprising his Gettysburg (1993) character, Sergeant Buster Kilrain, in this film, as part of the reason he turned down a supporting role in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, which would have prevented him from shooting this film. See more »
When preparing to form his troops into line of battle, Colonel Ames and his men pass an overturned wagon of furniture. In the next shot, this is no longer there. See more »
A human life, I think, should be well rooted in some spot of a native land, where it may get the love of tender kinship for the face of the earth, for the labors men go forth to, for the sounds and accents that haunt it, for whatever will give that early home a familiar unmistakable difference amidst the future widening of knowledge. The best introduction to astronomy is to think of the nightly heavens as a little lot of stars belonging to one's own homestead. - George Eliot
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The movie was dedicated to the memory of John F. Maxwell and Royce D. Applegate. See more »
The Director's Cut of the film includes additional action scenes from the Battle of Antietam. The battle scenes are shown from the perspectives of Jackson and Chamberlain, and mostly focus on the fighting in Miller's Cornfield which was a major deciding point of the battle. See more »
`Gods and Generals' plays less like a movie and more like a three-hour-and-49-minute long lesson in Civil War history. Grueling and plodding, the film is almost the antithesis of `Gone With the Wind,' in that while both films are epic tales told from the viewpoint of the defeated South, `Gods and Generals' (unlike the earlier film) has been essentially drained of all emotion, drama and characterization. `Gods and Generals' may be a more `realistic' war film than `Gone With the Wind' (what wouldn't be?), but it's not nearly as entertaining.
`Gods and Generals,' which begins right after the firing on Fort Sumter and ends shortly before the Battle of Gettysburg, is the first part of a planned trilogy. Despite a handful of `name' players in the cast (Robert Duvall, Jeff Daniels, Mira Sorvino and even Ted Turner in a ludicrous cameo appearance), writer/director Ronald F. Maxwell is unable to bring a single character in his film to convincing life (with the possible exception of `Stonewall' Jackson, who gets to carry the burden of what little drama the film has almost single-handedly). In lieu of dialogue, the actors spend most of their time looking wistfully up to heaven or scanning the mist-shrouded horizon while delivering endless homilies about the rightness of the cause and the place of God in human affairs. To keep it all palatable for more enlightened and egalitarian-minded modern audiences, the filmmakers are quick to have the Southern characters declare that, even though the South is forced to fight against the North to protect its God-given right to sovereignty, they, as individuals, are all personally opposed to slavery as an institution and firmly believe that their resident blacks will be freed someday as a matter of course. Hell, the Northerners in this film seem more prejudiced against black people than the Southerners, who just can't say enough good things about their sycophantic slaves.
The battle scenes, though well staged and appropriately graphic in nature, are strangely unmoving, primarily because we have no emotional stake in any of the characters we see doing the fighting. Without anyone for us to focus on and care about, the audience becomes little more than curious bystanders, passive and unengaged observers of this brutal display of ritualized slaughter. Although the visuals are splendid throughout, the musical score, except in a few places, is like a thick, heavy syrup poured over the entire film.
By providing subtitled identification of the principal people, places, dates and battles, `Gods and Generals' does provide a service as a history lesson of sorts. As a drama, however, the film is woefully lacking in every way imaginable. `Gods and Generals' may thrill the heart of the diehard Civil War buff. The rest of us will have to stick to our dreams of Scarlett and Rhett, and of a romanticized vision of the South that only a Golden Age Hollywood mogul would have dared come up with.
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