This film takes the side of the Southern states in the American Civil War, despite the fact that slavery made the South wealthy and that is why they would not give it up. The film hides the brutal, immoral and inhumane reality of slavery under a sanctimonious goo of religiosity which simply adds hypocrisy to the charges against the South. An interesting study in evasion and moral duplicity on the part of the film-makers.
Gods and Generals
Time Out saysA pig-headed romanticism about the ante-bellum American South still hangs in the air almost 150 years after its fall - an awfully late date to be spinning yarns in the wounded-nostalgia vein of Birth of a Nation and Gone With the Wind. Clocking in at nearly four hours and bankrolled by Ted Turner, this wooden historical re-enactment contends that the Civil War was fought essentially because a bunch of uppity Northerners invaded Virginia, a sanctum of fervent Christians who quote the Bible in daily conversation and treat their passionately loyal black employees with affection and respect. An hour goes by before 'slavery' is mentioned - in a college classroom in Maine, far north of what the script politely calls the 'Cotton States'. The procession of monotonous, oddly gore-free battles breaks frequently for bloated speechifying. Duvall sometimes hobbles by as a faintly senile Robert E Lee, but the film's parade of mouldy taxidermy gives centre stage to Confederate leader 'Stonewall' Jackson (Lang), a gentle zealot with a direct line to God. Ironically, Lang evokes iconic images of fanatical abolitionist John Brown, in a performance of such fascinating awfulness it does rough justice to the bird's nest glued to his face. In the gospel according to Turner and writer/director Maxwell, the war wasn't a political struggle with moral stakes, but simply a battle to defend home and hearth - and a home with a happy slave in the kitchen is where the heart is. (From the book by Jeff Shaara.)
Cast and crew
Kevin Conway, C Thomas Howell, Matt Letscher, Frankie Faison, Jeremy London, William Sanderson, Kali Rocha, Joseph Fuqua, Bruce Boxleitner, Mira Sorvino, Robert Duvall, Jeff Daniels, Stephen Lang, Ted Turner