MOVIES: "GODS & GENERALS"

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Southron

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First of all, I think that Ron Maxwell did a fabulous job directing "Gettysburg." What he had was a "story" with a lot of built in drama and for my money, he did a pretty good job of presenting the battle as it actually occurred.

But when it came to "Gods & Generals," he seemed to lose focus. As far as I am concerned, he should have thrown out the script he used to shoot the movie and instead, center the movie on Jackson's Valley Campaign of 1862. [I will admit, I am prejudiced because I had a couple of ancestors that were in Jackson's little army in the Valley.]

Jackson's Valley Campaign of '62 qualifies as one of the most brilliant military campaigns in all of American history and Maxwell could have presented it in his fair and even-handed manner.

General John C. Fremont was one of Jackson's antagonists and the conflict between Jackson and Fremont could have made some great cinema!
 

Dave Hull

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I enjoyed both movies and have found more appreciation of Gods and Generals with each viewing. When Lori's mom was with us that year and a half before her death, Gods and Generals was always one she would want to see. About half way through disk one every time, she would say, I believe I have seen this before. I said yep, probably so, not telling her that we had just watched it three days ago. I definitely enjoyed it more after the first four times seeing it than the first time.
 
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KeyserSoze

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First of all, I think that Ron Maxwell did a fabulous job directing "Gettysburg." What he had was a "story" with a lot of built in drama and for my money, he did a pretty good job of presenting the battle as it actually occurred.

But when it came to "Gods & Generals," he seemed to lose focus. As far as I am concerned, he should have thrown out the script he used to shoot the movie and instead, center the movie on Jackson's Valley Campaign of 1862. [I will admit, I am prejudiced because I had a couple of ancestors that were in Jackson's little army in the Valley.]

Jackson's Valley Campaign of '62 qualifies as one of the most brilliant military campaigns in all of American history and Maxwell could have presented it in his fair and even-handed manner.

General John C. Fremont was one of Jackson's antagonists and the conflict between Jackson and Fremont could have made some great cinema!
Maybe he should have based it on the book?
 

TinCan

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Gettysburg will always be my favorite. G&G was good, but didn't move me the way Gettysburg did. I did not like the "new" actors in G&G.
 
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Mark F. Jenkins

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I've only read The Killer Angels; how does Jeff Shaara's writing stand up to his dad's? Are the weaknesses in G&G all in the transition to film, or are they a result of the underlying book?
 

KeyserSoze

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I've only read The Killer Angels; how does Jeff Shaara's writing stand up to his dad's? Are the weaknesses in G&G all in the transition to film, or are they a result of the underlying book?
The book is not bad. While I wouldn't place Jeff Shaara on the same level as his father, it was a good book. Very well done. The movie, on the other hand, bears virtually no resemblance to the book. The only thing the movie and the book have in common are time period and the fact that both include the same historical figures.
 

kealbo54

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One thing really bothered me.I think the casting of Jackson by the same person that played Pickett,previously,was wrong.Although,Stephan Lang did as good a job as could probably be done,he was Pickett in my head.Gettysburg worked(I didnt care much for it)as a stand-alone epic,but G&G should have been a mini-series!It tried to cover too much territory.There was so much wrong with both,for me that,my SO used to cue them up just to listen to me [email protected]#$H while they played.It was hard watching an older portlier Jeff Daniels play a young man at Fredericksburg,too.There were many good things in Gettysburg(SamElliot,for one),and a few decent things in G&G,overall,Maxwell had a chance to make some really epic film,and I think he failed,for the most part.Heard a neat story recently about Gettysburg.The fat sentry on picket duty?I came to find out he was a big-shot(no pun) issuing permits,and demanded for a part for his trouble.The saving grace for both films,is the fresh interest generated in both the ACW and for reenacting.
 
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M E Wolf

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MOVING THIS THREAD TO THE MOVIE & BOOK REVIEW FORUM

M. E. Wolf
POSTED IN THE CAPACITY OF MODERATOR
Feb. 26, 2013 7:50 p.m.
 

Bryan_C

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I have a "love-hate" relationship with Gods & Generals. I love the opening with the flags and the song "Going Home." I love that there are a lot of small details that are based on historic facts. I've read several primary source accounts that verify things that were portrayed in the film. And when I visited the Manassas National Battlefield Park, I was blown away when I saw the VMI jacket (with the fatal bullet hole) of Cadet Charlie Norris, a young man featured in the film. He was the guy who said, "C'mon boys! Quick and we can whip 'em!" Right before he impulsively ran ahead without orders to charge the Union lines.) I did not know the story was true and I was amazed to see the truth revealed to me and not just be reading the story in a book. Indeed, there are a lot of facts and stories I did not know about the Civil War before I saw this film.

But Gods & Generals is a major disappointment as a movie. The film is a celluloid monument to the Lost Cause. It is the spiritual successor to Gone With the Wind and that movie is the spiritual succesor to Birth of a Nation. Anyway, when I saw Gods & Generals in the theatres in 2003, I couldn't define what the Lost Cause was if someone asked me because I was unfamiliar with the term, though I knew the ingredients of it: the war was fought over states' rights. many Black people were faithful servants to their masters. Southerners fought hard but they were beaten by superior numbers. They lost not because they were poor soldiers. They lost because the North beat them with overwhelming resources.

Many of the scenes are bad history, plain and simple. The opening scene with Robert E. Lee and Preston Blair is just wrong from top to bottom. I've written a blog post about this. In the next scene, which takes place April 1861, where the movie introduces Jackson, the caption on the screen says "Major Thomas Jonathan Jackson, U.S. Army." Another mistake. Jackson had resigned from the US Army in 1851 and never went back. He resigend to become a professor at VMI and the uniform he wears in that scene is the blue uniform of the Virginia State Militia... not the blue uniform of the Federal Army. If you watch the scene, take a look at his belt buckle- it's a Virginia State belt buckle.

And the scene before Fredericksburg where Jackson tells Jim Lewis that some people in the Confederate High command are seriously contemplating enlisting Blacks as soldiers as pure and simple BS. I don't believe this conversation ever took place.

This movie presents a sanitized, Christian Confederacy that reluctantly finds itself thrown into an unwanted war. It shows slavery as such a benign institution, that when Martha Beale and Jim Lewis speak of the desire for freedom, you almost wonder why they would want to leave the wonderful life they apppear to already have. It's nice that it gets details right like someone's uniform or the rifles the 1st Virginia used or whatever... but by misrepresenting the big stories of slavery and what the Confederacy was really about... all of the historic facts it painstakingly got right are sacrificed to Lost Cause nonsense.

I recall hearing that 1500 historians worked on this film. I'm not sure what they did.. but "work" is not the word for it.
 

Southron

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Although I have not look this up, I went to a Southern Military Academy in the 1960's and all of the teachers that DID NOT HAVE Regular or Reserve Commissions in the U.S. military were given the "School Rank" of "Major."

They wore the uniform of an officer along with the rank insignia of a "Cadet Major," a single diamond insignia.

Teachers that had a Reserve or Regular Army Commission wore their U.S. Army uniform and rank insignia. Hence our "Commandant of Cadets" was a 1st Lieutenant in the Army Reserve and wore that uniform.

So, Stonewall Jackson was probably given the VMI rank of "Major" when he was a teacher at the school.
 
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Bryan_C

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Although I have not look this up, I went to a Southern Military Academy in the 1960's and all of the teachers that DID NOT HAVE Regular or Reserve Commissions in the U.S. military were given the "School Rank" of "Major."

They wore the uniform of an officer along with the rank insignia of a "Cadet Major," a single diamond insignia.

Teachers that had a Reserve or Regular Army Commission wore their U.S. Army uniform and rank insignia. Hence our "Commandant of Cadets" was a 1st Lieutenant in the Army Reserve and wore that uniform.

So, Stonewall Jackson was probably given the VMI rank of "Major" when he was a teacher at the school.
Thanks for the reply. I don't know why Thomas J. Jackson held the rank of major at VMI in the spring of 1861... but the bottom line is, he was NOT in the United States Army at the time. He was an officer in the Virginia State Militia.
 

James N.

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Jackson had been brevetted major for his heroic actions during the Mexican War. When he resigned in 1851, he remained entitled to the courtesy title of Major for the rest of his life regardless of any subsequent status. ( In exactly the same way postwar Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer was habitually refered to by civillians, superiors, and subordinates as General Custer for his wartime brevet to Major General of Volunteers. ) Jackson was referred to as Major Jackson by everyone from fellow faculty and students to neighbors, friends, and his wives. It was a time of formal society and titles were used freely. Of course the basic premise that Jackson was no longer a member of the U. S. military is correct and indisputable, but it falls into the same error of willful generalization that shows Robert E. Lee with a full beard at the beginning of the movie. Hollywood is notorious about details they feel "would confuse the audience", and this incorrect way of introducing Jackson is merely their way of avoiding this admittedly confusing business about rank and titles.
 

Bryan_C

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Jackson had been brevetted major for his heroic actions during the Mexican War. When he resigned in 1851, he remained entitled to the courtesy title of Major for the rest of his life regardless of any subsequent status. ( In exactly the same way postwar Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer was habitually refered to by civillians, superiors, and subordinates as General Custer for his wartime brevet to Major General of Volunteers. ) Jackson was referred to as Major Jackson by everyone from fellow faculty and students to neighbors, friends, and his wives. It was a time of formal society and titles were used freely. Of course the basic premise that Jackson was no longer a member of the U. S. military is correct and indisputable, but it falls into the same error of willful generalization that shows Robert E. Lee with a full beard at the beginning of the movie. Hollywood is notorious about details they feel "would confuse the audience", and this incorrect way of introducing Jackson is merely their way of avoiding this admittedly confusing business about rank and titles.
James,
I understand and I'm well aware of the "notorious about details they feel would confuse the audience" you're talking about. But when I saw the movie in 2003, I was not aware Jackson had left the US Army in 1851 and I thought he was wearing the blue uniform of the Federal Army and not the Virginia Militia. So, I guess the "incorrect way of introducing Jackson" worked on me.

What actually tipped me off wasn't even the belt buckle. I knew that Virgnia state uniforms were blue (I have Osprey Publications' State Troops book) but I also realized Jackson's staff officers, "Sandie" Pendleton and James P. Smith, were never in the US Army (and Smith didn't actually join Jackson's staff until spring(?) 1862). So seeing them in the blue uniform began to unravel the "incorrect way" of things for me.
 
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jay gale

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I enjoyed Gods and Generals on mostly a pure entertainment level. Some of the scenes were pretty gripping though. The whole Fredericksburg battle was pretty intense, but my favorite scene is the one where Jackson's men start their run to attack the Union troops after their successful flanking march, just them running like hell to spring the surprise is a really great scene.

Gettysburg? saw the premiere in DC and visited the field the next day, talk about doing it right. And I love that movie.
 

Southron

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I understand that they shot enough film for G & G to put together an entire movie on The Battle of Sharpsburg (Antietam) and Jackson's role in it.

Is this True?

Will they ever release the movie on DVD???

Seems like me to be a waste of money to leave that film in the film vault-never to be seen.
 
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jay gale

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I understand that they shot enough film for G & G to put together an entire movie on The Battle of Sharpsburg (Antietam) and Jackson's role in it.

Is this True?

Will they ever release the movie on DVD???

Seems like me to be a waste of money to leave that film in the film vault-never to be seen.
that would be cool, The whole story of Lee's first invasion of the north would be a great movie.

Gods and Generals IS out on DVD.....I think it's kinda hard to find though.
 

Jamieva

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It's not that hard to find on Amazon etc. When they did the 150th anniversary release they did a directors cut and it has Antietam in it. I believe that's only on Blu Ray
 
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