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Gods and Generals (2003)
Studio: Warner Home Video
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Customers who bought this also bought:
1. Gettysburg (Widescreen Edition)
2. Glory (Special Edition)
3. Andersonville
4. The Last Days of the Civil War
5. Cold Mountain
Editorial Reviews:
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

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.

Product Details
  • Starring: Jeff Daniels, Stephen Lang, Robert Duvall
  • Director: Ronald F. Maxwell
  • Encoding: 1 (U.S. and Canada)
  • Format: Color, Closed-captioned, Widescreen, Dolby
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: February 8, 2023
  • Running Time: 229
  • Language: English (Dubbed), French (Subtitled), English (Subtitled), Spanish (Subtitled), English (Original Language)
  • ASIN: B00009OOFA
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 Based on 639 reviews.
  • Sales Rank: 2006

Customer Reviews

0 of 0 people found the following review helpful:

2I really wanted to like this film, May 19, 2023
"Gods & Generals" is certainly filled with much of what you would expect: thrilling battle sequences and interaction between key historical figures. Unfortunately, it lacks for quantity in the former and over-indulges in the latter.

My biggest problem with this film, from a historical perspective, is how it skips entirely over key events. It was interesting to see the 1st Battle of Bull Run (July '61), but then the film skips over more than a year straight on to Fredericksburg (Dec '62). Several key events and campaigns unfolded during that time that are critical to understanding how future events transpired, and also how the characters were affected. Yet the film ignores these events entirely. Nothing is even mentioned about them.

Sure, skipping over historical events might anger scholars, but to the lay person the absence of these events also detracts from the flow of the entire film. Often, things just don't make a lot of sense.

Additionally, as a prequel the film does little to set the stage for "Gettysburg".

To the student of history, this incomplete film may be mildly entertaining at best, but if you're looking for a movie about the first two years of the war you're not going to find it here.

To the average movie-watcher, what you're going to see is a half-hearted adaptation of a first rate historical novel.

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful:

2Civil War recreation, May 19, 2023
In this very ambitious film about the Civil War's Battle of Fredricksburg, the two main forces of the South, under General Lee (Robert Duvall) and General "Stonewall" Jackson (Stephen Lang) mauster a defence of Fredricksburg, Virginia against the Northern Yankees, led in the feild by Lt. Col. Chamberlain (Jeff Danials). The very long movie has a few major battles where soldiers are lined up in mile long rows to be killed by the first line of the opposing enemy, who are also formed up like wise. And when they aren't shot with rifles, then they are blown to bits by cannon fire that lands in the middle of more soldiers several columns deep. The movie is, unfortunatly, VERY boring. The battle's are interesting, as is the planning of them by the generals that are camped near by. (An interesting comparison; opposed to generals in 1860s, today feild grade and general officers can watch and direct soldiers movements because some feild soldiers have camerals mounted on their helmets.) The scenes of the men at home with their families eats up a lot of time and effort, it seems. These scenes go on and on and on. Just rambling for no real reason. The acotrs do alright, especially Lang and Daniels. My only complaint with Lang's Jackson character was that his death scene seemed to last for way too long. His delusional mumblings were very tedious and wore on my nerves. The only way I recommend this film at all is as a way to visualize the Civil War and some of it's participants. You may be better off just reading the book; yu might be able to read it faster than you can watch the movie.

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:

4Gods and Generals, Life and Death, The hardest war..., May 15, 2023
Gods and Generals is an epic show that is not only historical in content but genuine in showing us what the people of that era went through. The X generation forgets what came before them, a war on our own land, brother against brother, wives looking out the window at smoke in the distance and wondering if it is a sign their loved one was not returning. Watch this movie, then pay your respects to the past!

Director Ron Maxwell and producer Ted Turner return to the glory and tragedy of the Civil War in this historical drama, a prequel to Gettysburg, which examines the early days of the conflict through the experiences of three men. Col. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain (Jeff Daniels) left behind a quiet life and a career as a college professor to become one of the Union's greatest military minds. Gen. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson (Stephen Lang) was, like Chamberlain, a man of great religious faith who served in the defense of the Confederacy. And Gen. Robert E. Lee (Robert Duvall), who led the Confederate army, was a man who was forced to choose between his loyalty to the United States and his love of the Southern states where he was born and raised. As Chamberlain, Jackson, and Lee are followed through the declaration of war and the battles at Manassas, Antietam, Frederickburg, and Chancellorsville, the film also introduces us to the many supporting players in the epic tale of the war between the States, among them the women these men left behind, among them Fanny Chamberlain (Mira Sorvino) and Anna Jackson (Kali Rocha). Based on a novel by Jeff Shaara.

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful:

2Bad Shakespeare, Nice Horses, Apr 26, 2023
They used some fine horses. These sleek, muscular beasts stood through the task of filming a 220 minute movie and looked great doing it. They whinnied, ran, jumped, bucked, fell marvelously.

As far as the movie, dissecting why it is worth only two stars is a challenge in a short space. The horses, I can say, keep it from being one star.

"Gods and Generals" is like bad Shakespeare. Good Shakespearean actors are hard to find, since there is a tendency for everything to come off amateurish, thanks to overacting, inaccurate or overstated accents, and body language that reviles even the most staid and stuff personality.

With amazing vistas and meticulously researched and detailed sets, I expected an equal acumen when casting. After Robert Duvall and Jeff Daniels, the bar was dropped pretty far.

Apparently, the director though it was a good idea to hire Civil War reenactors. Civil War reenactors are those noble, hardworking people putting on shows of various battles. They offer a great service to the education about a tumultuous time in America. They aren't trained actors, and here, in "Gods and Generals," it shows.

The reasons for the war are sugarcoated, as are the atrocities within. While Jackson and Lee may have been terrific gentlemen about the sport of war, the average soldiers were often uneducated, uncouth young men advancing the deaths of one another. Sword wounds did not drip lightly, but the war was a gory mess.

In reducing this film to PG-13, the directors did something as blandly misleading as CBS' white-bread "Jesus." Jesus, as Mel Gibson capably showed us with "Passion of the Christ", was whipped into the ground. Similarly, the Civil War had almost 1.0 million casualties. We are provided powerful battles, but somehow the directors managed to avoid the horror. Reality is skipped, and, as result, so is accuracy.

Jim, a black cook, is treated with a cliche, "Yes'suh, whatever you say suh," personality. Blacks in general are glazed over as almost nonentities.

The "gods" part of the title, reflecting on the role of Christian faith within the war, is handled by taking a character, tossing in a Bible quote, and making it look like he had faith. Faith is more rich than that, just as the lack of faith. Atheists and Christians alike were made out to have paper-thin reasoning. This oversight in the midst of trying to make a major point indicates a church history theologian was not consulted in the making of the film.

Even the Bob Dylan song was average, and I like him. The extra-feature video of his song, "Cross the Green Mountain," had some intelligent lyrics but felt too Bruce Springsteen-esque.

On the DVD is Ted Turner's introduction. He may manage a huge corporation, but he came off like a guy with almost a high school diploma. His presentation was poorly scripted, providing no real information. A historian or major actor should have tackled this one.

If you are interested in Civil War reenactments, see one live. At least then, it'll be more believable.

Anthony Trendl

3 of 11 people found the following review helpful:

2Stupid, Stupid, Stupid, Why? Why? Why?, Apr 23, 2023
AS has been ststed, the battle scenes are meticulous especially where the Blue is surprised and swept from the field.
BUt This movie was a love song to slavery and the antebellum south. Wheras in Gettysburg, there was a wonderful balance of view points ie South V North. Every effort in this "historically accurate" film was made to demonize the North. Evil businessmen were responsible for the war didn't you know! The seeds of division were sown in 1771 "All men are created equal" (except Negros). This is why the South seceded. To perpetuate Evil. But in this movie it was evil Lincoln, evil businessmen and those rotten abolitionist from the North who casued the war. Talk about revisionism! Ols Stonewall HIREING a black man as a cook!!!! Talking to the Black man as an EQUAL about politics family and religion!! AS if!!! What a hoot!! How about the black slave guarding her precious White Owner as if she were her best friend against the rapacious North!!! The southern Irish can't understand why their Northern Brethern are fighting against them !!! Could it be that they are fighting for what Kilrain was fighting for in Gettysburg? Does Maxwell try to rewrite his won history. The north is shown to be as invaders instead of preservers of the Union and the Southerners are happy go lucky nice white folk singing and dancing about "states rights" when the first thing they formed was a strong Federal Government under Jefferson Davis that overuled ANY pretense of indiviual states first. This movie insulted any student of History, And if I were of African descent I would be angry at the ghastly inaccuracies of genteel whites taken so very good care of their wards. And to focus Stonewall as a devoutly religious man with a higher moral purpose than any one else in the country just angered me. HELLO he was fighting to preserve slavery of an entire race!!!! Millions of souls!!!! How about the GOOD people of the North? There must have been one other than Joshua Chamberlain!!! The sacrifice these men and boys. Lincoln was reviled then as much as he is revered today. What he did was to answer to a higher purpose and held to that ideal despite all.


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