Gods and Generals

Bomb Rating: 

(Spoiler: The Union wins the civil war.)

In an apparent nod to historical accuracy, "Gods and Generals" is nearly as long as the Civil War itself. Runtime on this sucker is nearly four hours. It has an intermission. It should also have an aid station with Gatorade and Powerbars. This would be fine if it were four hours long with cause, but you quickly get the sense that you're spending the entire time watching an army of hastily-costumed extras who were paid with nothing more than opossum sandwiches and bottles of Yoo Hoo. Watch carefully and see if you can spot the Confederate soldier in the second row who forgot to remove his NASCAR cap. This is all enhanced by oft-repeated wide shots of the battlefield enhanced by what looked like puffs of computer-generated smoke. I guess somewhere along the way the filmmakers blew the smoke budget.

The key figures in "Gods and Generals" are Lt. Col. Joshua Chamberlain (Jeff Daniels) on the Union side and Robert E. Lee (Robert Duvall) and Stonewall Jackson (Stephen Lang) on the Confederate side. Stonewall gets the most screen time as he draws upon his blind religious devotion to justify the slaughter of the enemy, and in some cases his own men. Played with a steely, creepy certainty by Lang, we're supposed to view the character as complex, but he's really just a dim-witted asshole who relies on his imaginary benefactor in the sky to justify his messianic quest to commit unspeakable crimes against humanity. Thank God the American armed forces don't have to deal with leaders like that anymore.

The dialog in "Gods and Generals" is conducted entirely in speeches, even when the subject is the weather or the need to go take a leak: "Urinate I shall, dear friend, with relieving, draining vigor and ending with a mighty shake of my trouser musket." This leaden profundity reinforces the theory that people in the 1860s went to war simply for want of something to do. Recreation apparently consisted of sitting stiffly in parlor rooms for hours and watching someone inexpertly play the piano. When called to serve, both Stonewall and Chamberlain react by turning to their wives and saying something along the lines of "Let us now sit, dear wife, and read verse," rather than "Verily, let us do it in the butt!"

Similarly sanitized is the face of slavery. According to "Gods and Generals," black people in the South were enslaved only by the kindness of their white benefactors. Stonewall Jackson is demonstratively kind to his black cook Jim (provided he keeps that goddamn food coming), which inspires Jim to wax eloquent about the noble quest of the Confederate army to defend his homeland.

The movie follows the first half of the Civil War, when the Confederates gained an edge over the Union army by relying on such key strategic advantages as "shooting from behind stuff" and "ducking." The movie also has some unbelievably blunt emotional moments: Irish Confederates shoot at Irish Union soldiers. Irish Union soldiers die. Irish music plays. Irish Confederates cry. In another sequence, Stonewall Jackson befriends little girl. Little girl gets fever. Little girl dies. Stonewall Jackson cries. Stonewall's men gather, point and say, "He cries for all of us." At this point, it's been nearly three hours with over an hour to go. Who cries for me?

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Average: 3.8 (4 votes)

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A simple reply

P.h. D. Civil War Studies's picture

It's obvious you have no common knowledge of any of the figures of the conflicts presented in this movie. Stonewall Jackson a dimwitted asshole? How about, Stonewall Jackson, one of the few American Generals studied in warfare internationally. Your brush of information about Jim Lewis is probably the worse of its kind, Jim was considered one of Jackson's true friends, which Jim showed his devotion by accompanying Jackson throughout his time on death's bed. You insults are really quite humorous since you attack from a mostly historical point which you show no knowledge there of. Extras paid in yoo hoo and opossum sandwiches. Wow, more like thousands of volunteers and civil war re-enactors that came together out of the spirit of history. Keep you idiotic comments to yourself and just enjoy the ride.

A classic example...

West_Coast_Dude's picture

... of how YOUR taxpayer dollars are wasted at public universities.


The Civil War is over.

Anonymous's picture

You lost.

Get. Over. It.

Re: Get. Over. It

FearlessFreep's picture

I don't think Southerners will ever forgive themselves for losing that war.



Rajah's picture

Hey, we already have some of you fools eating grits

It only a matter of time!

The South was the first to sink a ship with a submarine!

So what if we lost three crews doing it.......picky....picky ....picky

Gettysburg might be the better movie

Rajah's picture

Although Martin Sheen pretty much sucks rhino butt as Robert E. Lee

Jeff Daniels does a good job as Chamberlain and a good half of the movie is about Chamberlain and the 2Oth Maine. His feat on Little Round Top was legendary

Pickett's charge or should I say "walk" was one of the real bonehead decisions of the war. One mile of open ground with cannons all around. Yep, that was Lee's idea

Sam Elliot as General Buford got on my nerves. He secured the high ground for the Union and kept saying what "pretty ground" it was. I thought he was going to make love to it.

One special note : they show the union field hospital in some scenes and there's a cart with "spare parts" beside it. I swore I saw it but it might have been editted out later.

Gotta agree with you there -

Rich's picture

Gotta agree with you there - Gettysburg (despite some problems) overall was a MUCH better movie than G & G. Chamberlain's defense of Little Round Top was actually quite inspiring, whereas in Gods & Generals he's reduced to spouting Julius Caeser just before the battle of Fredricksburg! What a waste! By the way, you DID see a cart of body parts outside a temporary hospital at the begining of the 2nd half of the movie (although it was Confederate, not Union) - pretty common sight during those battles.

Oh okay

Rajah's picture

Wonder what they did with those war by-products?


Was that when Spam was invented?

Mmmm confederates! Tastes like chicken!

Just because those northern traitors

Anonymous's picture

flock south every winter doesn't mean that the war is over.

What happened to the forums?

Anonymous's picture

What happened to the forums?

You can find most of the old posts at archive.org

FearlessFreep's picture

If you do a search for "mrcranky.com" there, you'll get a whole lot of weekly pages.  Open one of the post-2000 pages and you'll find a "full Cranky archive" link near the bottom of the left column.  Open that link and then open the "G" link. The old GODS & GENERALS forum should be on that page.


Ahh yes, Formums and list of most active forums all gone.

TMundo's picture


Were the non-movie fora nuked...

Wulfgar's picture

...in order to drive traffic through the review fora?



~No, my young padawan; this one is mine.~


I doubt it.

Coaster's picture

Forum programs are the frequent target of bot-driven hacks.  There's even a special name for these which I'm not quite geek enough to remember.   I'll bet it's eather that or the forums were shut down due to an upgrade not being completed. 

Or some shit just happened.  It always seemed to.  I mean, we can put a man on the moon, but we can't stop shit from happening.  Or American Idol.  Or that annoying fuck with the load mouth who does the ad for Kaboom and a few other products I'll never buy unless said pitchman suffers a prolonged public flogging.  And probably not even then, 'cause you know, who wants to be reminded?  But yeah, his flogging would be cool.   

Let's invade Canada!

Rajah's picture

Wow. Sorry about all of

jazzdrive3's picture

Wow. Sorry about all of that.

I guess when I was tweaking permissions for the community reviews, something screwed up the forums. they should be working now. Please send me a message through the contact forum if otherwise.


Oh, no worries, jazz...

Wulfgar's picture

...I was just hoping to start a campaign of dissatisfaction leading to the posters revoltinging against the site's Cannibal Reptoid Masters From Dimension Q™.


Coaster, what about Vince™ from Shamwow™?


I think he's dreamy...




~No, my young padawan; this one is mine.~


I gotta be careful with the Shamwow guy.

Coaster's picture

My wife has been eying his product (and him too, I suspect).  She is susceptible to these infomercials:  She actually owns a Snuggie. 

I am so screwed.

Hmmm, Shamwow looks pretty good

Rajah's picture

Imagine never having to buy paper towels again!

Hey, the guy is shouting at me! It must be a good product!

No wonder I bought all this Oxy-Clean!

Bet she looks sexy in that Snuggie!

What we know for certain about Fox News commentators:

RidingFool's picture

1) None have served, nor do they know any other country that has personnel in any war.

2) Russia is due south of Canada. They don't know that.

3) America's biggest problem is Mexico. Oh, and Islam. They don't know that either.

4) America's military and its members is/are broken, possibly forever - another fact they aren't aware of. Go figure.

5) Although Canada has, in some circumstances, legalized dope, the Fox News audience is populated by dopes.

6) It's nice to live under the umbrella of American foreign policy and protection. When you're as big a dufus as America likes to be, I'd rather have the airplanes raining down on them.

7) And finally, a question: Is this an example of Fox humor? WTF is with that? I'm led to believe that they had to rehearse this bit for quite a while, since no one at the network actually knows anything, including their writers, who are all former members of the Bush administration.

8) Which reminds me. You all voted for Bush a second time. (Well, okay, a FIRST time, since he was previously an annointed preznit.)

9) None of this really matters to me. I just have happy fingers this morning.

10) There's nothing here. Or there.

The video pretty much encapsulates the abject stupidity and moronic behavior of not only the Fox network, but also the entire American news media. It applies to them all, equally.

Throw your TV out the window!

Dan_in_Cincinnati's picture

SCTV shall lead the way!

{;-) Dan in Miami


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