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Gettysburg / Gods and Generals

1 rating: 3.0
Drama, Educational, and Westerns movie directed by Ronald F. Maxwell

Key battles of America's Civil War thunder across the screen in two richly scaled, rigorously authentic, powerfully compelling epics based on acclaimed historical novels by Michael Shaara. The tide of the war changes during three fierce days of combat … see full wiki

Director: Ronald F. Maxwell
Genre: Educational, Western, Drama
1 review about Gettysburg / Gods and Generals

Civil War drama

  • Sep 26, 2009
Rating:
+3
I don't often give movies a 5-star rating. Gettysburg is one of those rare exceptions. This is a movie about the Battle of Gettysburg, one of the most pivotal moments in U.S. history. The movie rises to the occasion. The acting is great, with Martin Sheen as General Robert E. Lee and Jeff Daniels as Colonel Chamberlain. The film has a beautiful cinematography and an incredible soundtrack by Randy Edelman. This is a masterpiece and will remain a classic for decades to come. I wish it had encouraged more historical fiction movies, but in the years since 1993 I haven't seen many movies of this caliber.

Gods & Generals, the prequel, covers the two years before Gettysburg, particularly the battle of Fredericksburg. It stars most of the same characters as Gettysburg and was produced with the same care to historical attention. Robert Duvall and Jeff Daniels are both excellent as General Robert E. Lee and Colonel Chamberlain. The settings beautifully portray the historical era and battlefield sites.

However, Gods & Generals wasn't quite as satisfying as Gettysburg. It focuses much more on the Southern forces than the North. It presents a distorted view of the South, almost to the point of taking the Confederacy's side. It presents African American slaves as sympathetic to the Confederate cause. Much of the film stars General Stonewall Jackson, an annoying Southern fanatic who spews out religious fanaticism. In one long scene, he claims that the South was considering liberating the slaves, but this scene overshadows the fact that the Confederacy never came even close to this (and that after the war, Southerners spent decades harassing African Americans). Meanwhile, General Lee, a more sympathetic character, is more marginal than in Gettysburg.

I don't mind a movie that shows the Southern point of view and doesn't demonize them - Gettysburg did a good job of presenting Southern soldiers as human beings. However, Gods & Generals goes a bit too far.

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