Gods and Generals was released in 2003. As with Ronald F. Maxwell’s earlier movie, Gettysburg, released in 1993, Gods and Generals is the stupendous production that proves that American filmmakers are still capable of historical epics and an authentic respect for the past. Gods and Generals is the prequel to Gettysburg and is based on a Jeff Shaara novel of the same title. It centers around the Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville campaigns in Virginia and is dominated by the memorable portrayal of Stonewall Jackson by Stephen Lang.
The focus in on Jackson and his Confederate soldiers. The story covers the first two years of the Confederates defense of Virginia in the face of repeated attempts by large Federal armies to overwhelm them, and that aspect makes this movie the most meaningful of all military movies ever made about the War Between the States.
From the start the audience understands that the Confederates, as Secessionists, are defending their homeland against Federal attacks. There is no illusion that somehow the Confederates desired to conquer the northern States — they just wanted to be left alone.
The music is among the best ever written and performed for any movie to date, and acquiring a copy of the music score for your music library is recommended, as well as a copy of the movie.
Stated another way, Gone with the Wind is the greatest movie ever made about the later years of the war, about the Federal war against civilians and the Federal destruction of Georgia, and Gods and Generals is the greatest movie ever made about the military defense of Virginia against the Federal invasion campaign.
The only shortfall worthy of mention is the casting of Robert Duvall as Robert E. Lee. Duvall’s Lee is too old, too much a redneck, and has the wrong accent.
Another big reason to recommend Gods and Generals above any other military work is the production date. This movie was produced using the latest technology, giving the viewer all the gusto he could ever want.
Since the release of “Gods and Generals” Maxwell has been seeking funding for the final film of his War between the States trilogy, to be called “The Last Full Measure.” At this time he has not been successful.
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