My View in Summary: Overall, I enjoyed the movie (despite some of its
apparent flaws), and I plan to see it again in the theater, as well as
purchase the extended version when it comes out on DVD. I liked
and the novel "Gods and Generals" better. I am fairly confident that the
majority of Americans will not like nor support this film due to its
What I liked about the movie: I thought Lang did an excellent job
portraying Jackson. I was deeply moved by his final scene in the film.
The attention to detail was good; overall it was historically
accurate--with some exceptions.
The costumes looked good.
I appreciated the show of how Christianity influenced many in the Civil
War, such as Jackson and Lee.
I liked the fact that many from Gettysburg reprised their roles in this
film, although there were some who couldn't, which was a little
What I didn't like or wished was better about the movie: The fake beards
were more than obvious in this film, with the exception of Jackson's and
Lee's, but this is relatively minor to the overall film.
I thought, with maybe the exception of the Fredericksburg battle, the
depiction of the battle scenes were not nearly as well done as in
Gettysburg; but to be fair, there were more battles to cover in this film.
Gettysburg only had one, meaning more time could be given to the details
The battle of Antietam was not in the movie at all, not even mentioned,
which is very disappointing given its significance and
Some of the CGI is poorly done (i.e., very obvious), but, again, this is
small part of the movie and in my opinion neither makes nor breaks
Some of the speeches were a bit stiff and seemed contrived, particularly
Chamberlain's speech before the battle of Fredricksburg.
Not enough time was given to developing the characters of Lee,
Chamberlain, and Hancock, all of whom are important in the novel. In
in contrast to the film, the novel gives most time to Lee, not Jackson.
be fair, however, novels usually are better than their film counterparts
given the constraints of time.
My thoughts on some of the common complaints about the movie: Some
there wasn't enough realism as to the carnage of war. To that I say there
was enough to get the point across, and for myself, it is refreshing from
time to time to see a movie that doesn't rely too heavily on blood and
This is not meant to be a blood and guts movie. The novel is even less
bloody. Anyone who wants to see a blood and guts war movie should buy or
rent Saving Private Ryan, Full Metal Jacket, Hamburger Hill, the Patriot,
Others complain that there were too many poetic speeches. Indeed there
were many speeches, but that was also true of Gettysburg, which most view
a good movie. I didn't mind the speeches so much other than they
truncated the character in such a way that the audience fails to see their
visceral humanity. As stated above, the only speech I thought was a bit
over the top was Chamberlain's before the battle of Fredricksburg. It
seemed forced, showy, and odd that the whole regiment would stand
and quiet for so long to hear him go on and on. Clearly it was intended
be a poignant moment showing historical parallels between the American
War and Roman history. But the whole scene ends up feeling staged and
Others complain about the strong emphasis on religion. As stated
I found this emphasis refreshing, for certainly Jackson and Lee were very
devout Christian men. Christianity was a part of the ethos of this
at that time and affected many in both north and south.
Still others complain about the pro-southern perspective being so
While I admit there is an imbalance between the northern and southern
perspectives, which clearly favors the southern view, I also think this
stands to reason, since the overall focus of the film is clearly on
a southerner. And given the fact that many other movies often underplay
southern perspective (i.e., it was fought over State's rights) or ignore
altogether, some will find this movie's emphasis a refreshing change. On
the other hand, the clear downplay of the role and effect of slavery in
film will no doubt trouble many Americans.
Finally, others complain that the movie is too long. But I find this
be a misnomer. What most really mean by this is that the movie is not
entertaining enough to justify such a length. This is not the first long
film in cinematic history. Other films were very long and yet praised as
wonderful (Terms of Endearment, Dances With Wolves, Gone with the Wind,
Braveheart, Lord of the Rings, etc.). The real issue here, I believe, is
that this movie for many is too "slow" or "mundane" in their estimation.
This, I think, is a result of our becoming so accustomed to roller coaster
rides at the movies. If it isn't constantly exciting or humorous or
action-packed, it needs to be short. I suppose that in a TV age wherein
are accustom to pure entertainment compacted into ten-minute blocks of
separated by pithy, entertaining commercials, this complaint ought not
surprise us, given the historical orientation of this film. But I think
such a complaint is evidence of a deeper cultural problem, which should
concern us all.
My opinion who will like this movie: many Historians, Teachers, and
Homeschooling parents; most southerners; Civil War reenactors; many
My opinion who will not like this movie: Most northerners, most African
Americans, many Liberals, most in Hollywood.
My opinion on how the movie will fare: It will likely not last long in the
theaters. Most critics will hate it. It will come out on DVD/Home video
sooner than most movies. It will likely not rake in as much money as it
cost to make. However, I hope to be proven wrong here. Though not
flaws, I believe it is worth seeing and discussing.