On February 21st, 2003, Gods and Generals, directed by Ronald F. Maxwell and based off of the novel Gods and Generals by Jeff Shaara, premiered. About the Civil War during 1861-1863, Gods and Generals starred Stephen Lang as General Stonewall Jackson, Robert Duvall as General Robert E. Lee, Jeff Daniels as Lt. Col. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, Ted Turner as Col. Tazewell Patton, C. Thomas Howell as Thomas Chamberlain, and Robert Byrd as a Confederate General. The portrayal of both the North and the South perspectives during the Civil War and the war strategies used by the North and the South were accomplished by a $56 million budget. Gods and Generals uniquely portrays the conflicting perspectives of the South and the North.
Throughout the movie, the tactical strategies are depicted. Ronald F. Maxwells goal was to accurately portray the historical events chronologically, the beliefs of the people, and the lives of the people involved in the Civil War. For example, the Battle of Fredericksburg was accurately depicted. The Union army did face difficulty setting up the pontoons to cross the river due to the Confederate forces shooting those putting the pontoons in place. However, the Union army was successful in crossing the river at further-down locations and stormed Fredericksburg. Ronald F. Maxwell further implemented accuracy by shooting the battles at or near the locations they occurred, such as Harpers Ferry and the Antietam Battlefield. Furthermore, the Generals were accurately performed by the actors. For instance, General Stonewall Jackson did have a strong faith in God and did not show fear in battle. Another accurate portrayal was the struggle for slaves to decide where their loyalty would lie. Many slaves felt attached to their owners but also wanted to gain freedom. Therefore, slaves were torn between supporting the North for their freedom and supporting the South for the families they served. During the time of the movies release, the United States of America was almost two years into the war in Afghanistan. As a result, Gods and Generals played a role in the political realm of America at the time. Gods and Generals was created to portray the sacrifices made during the Civil War. However, the movie did not contain much blood. Nonetheless, the film did show how many died during the battle and the effects of the Civil War on the common citizen and the soldier. Since the film portrays the sacrifices made by the soldiers and citizens (helping the wounded), the film evokes patriotism and a sense of perseverance among American citizens. In the course of a war, patriotism and the idea that America can survive hard times after the experience of the brutal Civil War are very important to have the support of the American people for the war. Therefore, whether intentional or unintentional, Gods and Generals influenced the politics of America.
Finally, the movie was not well received by the public and critics. Many of the complaints revolve around the fact the movie did not portray the bloodshed that occurs in battle. Many other critics disagreed with how the film portrayed the Souths beliefs during the Civil War as a moral belief. However, the films goal was to depict both sides the way each would have been, which includes the beliefs they held. The movie was a decent movie to show the history and the perspectives of the South and the North. Although not a good film to show the absolute brutality of the Civil War, it is a good film to show the amount of sacrifice that went into the Civil War. Gods and Generalss historical accuracy makes the movie enjoyable for those who like history and for those who have a deep interest in the Civil War.
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