February 21, 2003


-REVIEW: of Gods and Generals (RogerEbert, Chicago Sun-Times)
Here is a Civil War movie that Trent Lott might enjoy. Less enlightened than "Gone With the Wind," obsessed with military strategy, impartial between South and North, religiously devout, it waits 70 minutes before introducing the first of its two speaking roles for African Americans; "Stonewall" Jackson assures his black cook that the South will free him, and the cook looks cautiously optimistic. If World War II were handled this way, there'd be hell to pay.

The movie is essentially about brave men on both sides who fought and died so that ... well, so that they could fight and die. They are led by generals of blinding brilliance and nobility, although one Northern general makes a stupid error and the movie shows hundreds of his men being slaughtered at great length as the result of it. [...]

"Gods and Generals" is the kind of movie beloved by people who never go to the movies, because they are primarily interested in something else--the Civil War, for example--and think historical accuracy is a virtue instead of an attribute. The film plays like a special issue of American Heritage.

When's the last time you saw a Frenchman in a John Wayne movie? Why should the people about whom a war is being fought be central characters if they aren't central to the fighting? Posted by Orrin Judd at February 21, 2003 12:44 PM

To what sort of person is saying that a movie is like a special issue of American Heritage a put-down?

I went to see "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days" last week. The parts about journalism did not ring true to me, but it was funny anyway.

Posted by: Harry at February 21, 2003 2:05 PM

Roger Ebert doesn't like it because instead of confirming and reinforcing his prejudices, it tried to be objective and historically accurate. Why does that not surprise me? Did he say the same thing for "Saving Private Ryan?"

The man seems to think that great historic events happend so they could be the backdrop for intellectually incestuous Hollywood schlock like "Pearl Harbor" and "Titanic."

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at February 21, 2003 2:39 PM

I've read four or five other reviews and they all seem uncomfortable that it presents the honor of the soldiers instead of the suffering of the slaves.

Posted by: Tom at February 21, 2003 3:22 PM

Wasn't this movie supposed to cause problems for the Dems because Senator Byrd has a cameo as a confederate general?

Posted by: AWW at February 21, 2003 8:47 PM

So does rising GOP star George Allen.

Posted by: oj at February 21, 2003 9:52 PM