I watched a film named ‘Gods and Generals’ on t.v. over the weekend,, then I read some of the statistics, and finally I read some of the critics’ take on this film, something I very rarely do, but this film was exceptional in so many ways.
If you haven’t seen it, ‘Gods and Generals’ is about the first phase of the American Civil War, or as the South like to call it, ‘The War between the States’. That way, they feel that the fact they got whupped is slightly less hurtful than it would be if they accepted that it was a Civil War. It was one of the most uncivil periods of any comparative history, where such mannerly activities such as ‘parole’was never given for prisoners, because it was so frequently abused.
However, I digress. The film is a look mostly at the Southern point of the War, and in particular the Generals in charge; Ropbert E Lee and General Stonewall Jackson; the huge loss of life on both sides, and the rank amateurism of a few of the Northern Generals. One failing of the film is the ludicrous soliloquys given the various major players before the start of battle; I could accept a prayer! I could even accept a short quotation; but a five-minute dissertation is a little much! The battle scenes are terrific, well up to the visual standards of say, Speilberg or Eastwood, and the history is always crackling in your ears; but I can perhaps understand why it cost nearly seventy million dollars to make, but only earn twelve million at the box office. The film was based on a book by Jeff Shaara, the son of Michael Shaara, the pulitzer prize winning author of ‘The Killer Angels’, itself the story of Gettysburg, the lynchpin battle of the whole War.
I have to admit, the critics were partly right, as this film could have been magnificent, with a sweep through America and how it was forged; with father fighting son, and neighbour killing neighbour. As an entertainment, I would give it seven out of ten, but all those points were earned by the direction, the photography and the technical expertise: the acting, very little indeed!”