Perhaps you are aware by now of the fact that I am somewhat of a history buff. :) I love historical dramas about important times in the past. Last school year my sisters and I were learning about the American Civil war, and so our dear mother had us watch a whole bunch of movies on the subject- for which I am now very grateful- and Gods and Generals was among them.
Needless to say, I didn't like it at first. Actually, I didn't even expect to like it; I'm not sure why, since I've always had a fascination with history and already had an interest in war movies, but I wasn't expecting much from this one. And after watching it for the first time, I didn't really like it very much. It was a long, boring, three-hour educational movie with hardly any ladies in pretty dresses and no handsome soldiers. Well, I have since learned that as a general pattern, I usually don't like movies very much the first time I watch them. But then if I watch it again a year or so later, I might love it! There are many examples to back up this theory: Jane Eyre, The Young Victoria, King Arthur. So I suppose it's just a weird thing with me. :P
Anyway. My sister and I were recently listening to this soundtrack, and so moved were we by its beauty that we decided to watch the movie again and see if it was better the second time- and of course I probably don't need to tell you that it was. By degrees. :)
I am now of the opinion that with the exception of The Blue and the Gray- which of course is the best Civil War epic ever made :)- this is most likely the best Civil War movie I have ever seen. The movie basically follows three men: Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and Joshua Chamberlain- and three battles towards the beginning of the war: Manassas, Fredericksbug, and Chancellorsville.
First of all, you've just got to love Robert Duvall. I tried disliking him. It just doesn't work, people. He is an incredible actor and there is simply no denying it. He was a MUCH better Robert E. Lee than ol' Martin Sheen in Gettysburg- which is the sequel to Gods and Generals, although it was made first and so I guess Gods and Generals is technically a prequel or whatever- and I actually found myself really liking his character. (What did I tell you? It's impossible to dislike him! Or at least, very difficult. :) He wasn't in the movie as much as Joshua Chamberlain and Stonewall Jackson, but I think his was an excellent performance and he did a very nice job in the role of the Confederate general. (But even though he was Robert E. Lee, he still kind of seemed like Gus McCrae of Lonesome Dove- some people are just like that. :)
|That's quite a beard. You could set a teacup on that beard.|
|"You are the first brigade!"|
|He looks kind of like a puppy dog. But that's okay.|
I really liked this scene where he first tells his wife (actually, she kind of guesses) that he's going off to war. Al right, maybe it's because she recites a Lovelace poem, but really, I do like the scene! We don't see much of Mrs. Chamberlain because, well, she stayed home like all the rest of the women, and my sister Sadie calls her "his weird wife", but I think she's a very strong and loyal wife and I really like the character.
|One of the few inaccuracies: her hair is down. Arrggggg! And don't even get me started on the other girl's hair.|
I really liked these men of the "Stonewall" brigade: Lt. Joseph Morrison, Capt. Alexander Pendleton, Capt. James Smith, and..... I don't know the other one's name. They were very nice additions to the story, and I like movies with many characters and so I was glad we were able to get to know some of the soldiers besides just the generals.
I also really liked the character of Buster Kilrain, the Irishman in Colonel Chamberlain's division. He is much more of a prominent character in Gettysburg and I had actually forgotten how little his role was in this movie- the two movies kind of melded themselves together into my memory so that it was hard to remember where one ended and the other began- but I was still very glad to see him. In Gettysburg he calls Joshua Chamberlain "Colonel darling", which I thought very adorable. And we all know how I love Irishmen. :)
As you probably know, most war movies have beautiful soundtracks. :) This has actually become one of my favourite soundtracks, because I love fiddle music and bagpipes and the two of them together are just gorgeous. This is my favourite song from the soundtrack, These Brave Irishmen. Sink me if it doesn't bring tears to your eyes!
"It is well that war is so terrible, lest we should grow too fond of it." -Robert E. Lee
|Billy Yank and Johnny Reb trading across the Rappahanock.|