Gods and Generals

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German title Gods and Generals
Original title Gods and Generals
Country of production United States
original language English
Publishing year 2003
length 209/279 minutes
Age rating FSK 12
Director Ronald F. Maxwell
script Ronald F. Maxwell
production Ronald F. Maxwell
music Randy Edelman ,
John Frizzell
camera Kees Van Oostrum
cut Corky Ehlers

Gods and Generals is a period drama about the American Civil War based on the novel by Jeff Shaara , son of Michael Shaara . It is the prequel to the 1993 war film Gettysburg .


The initial phase of the conflict is portrayed, especially the people and their experiences, their feelings and inner division between the warring parties. It is the dichotomy of loyalty to their home state on the one hand and love for the whole - for the United States - on the other hand in which the main actors of this film find themselves.

These are Robert E. Lee , who is initially offered command of the US Army , which he refuses and instead takes over command in his home state of Virginia , which renounces the Union; Thomas Jonathan Jackson , also a Virginian, who takes command under Lee in the newly formed Virginia Army to repel Union attacks; Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain , Maine professor of rhetoric who becomes an officer in the newly established Maine 20th Infantry Regiment.

In the first battle of the young conflict at Manassas , the Confederates defeat Union forces. Jackson, who played a major role in the outcome of the battle, was given the name Stonewall . The following year the Battle of Fredericksburg becomes a baptism of fire for Chamberlain's inexperienced regiment. The Army of the Potomac tries to take Marye's Heights behind the city, which was occupied by the Confederate under Lee. The Union troops march across the open field towards the well-entrenched Confederates and are struck down by heavy defensive fire. Particular emphasis is placed on the attack by the Union's Irish Brigade , which encounters an Irish regiment on the Confederate side, which again highlights the tragedy of this fratricidal war.

The last battle shown is the Battle of Chancellorsville in the third year of the war in 1863. Here, Lee succeeds in routing the Union troops with an ingenious flank maneuver carried out by Jackson. Jackson is shot in the dark by his own men and dies some time later from the injuries he sustained. The Confederation has lost one of its great commanders.

Film music

As with Gettysburg , the music for the film comes from Randy Edelman, who this time was supported by John Frizzell. The artists Bob Dylan ( Cross the Green Mountain ) and Mary Fahl ( Going Home ) contributed to this.


If they wanted, the creators of Gods and Generals could be precise in both detail and nuance. Unfortunately, the filmmakers preferred to use the majority of the nearly four hours of running time to pluck political chickens. The result is the most pro-Confederate film since The Birth of a Nation , a veritable celebration of slavery and treason on celluloid. "

- Steven E. Woodworth

The main problem with the film, however, is its inadequate exposure to the key issues that make the Civil War so meaning. [...] The general message is that the southerners were fighting against barbaric Yankee invaders who threatened their country and their wives. Southerners are, by and large, portrayed as noble, well-mannered, and obedient. On the other hand, little is opposed to the image of Northerners as greedy looters determined to pillage southern cities. Even more disturbing, however, is how the film portrays slaves and slavery. The scenes that take up this question are few and far between and get lost in the overall plot of the film. [...] Gods and Generals is therefore closer to Gone with the Wind than to Glory [...] and is really a modern tribute to the Lost Cause. "

- William B. Feis

Director Ronald F. Maxwell apparently took a liking to the sometimes meticulous depiction of the American Civil War. Because after his extremely remarkable spectacle 'Gettysburg', he presents with this three and a half hour epic the prehistory of the all-important battle. He succeeded in brilliant pictures - again by cameraman Kees Van Oostrum - another gripping, unbelievably lavish civil war drama with a lot of fighting and pathos. Only a few lengths and the often too musky music reduce the viewing pleasure. "

- prism-online

The extra-long, detailed historical and battle drama comes up with a confusing number of people, but attaches importance to the historically accurate reconstruction of the battles and tries to describe the facts meticulously. "

- film service


The “Fredericksburg” scenes in the film were actually shot in Harpers Ferry , as there are virtually no contemporary buildings in Fredericksburg itself. Harpers Ferry now serves as a kind of historical park and has only changed marginally since the 19th century. The existing historical buildings were supplemented with film structures to complete the image of the city.

The shooting of the Battle of Fredericksburg fell partially on September 11, 2001 , which is why some of the reenactors (who served in the reserve forces of the US Army) were assigned to active duty. This posed considerable problems for the producers of the film, as they now lacked sufficient actors for the crowd scenes. An attempt was made to compensate for these missing actors with Computer Generated Imagery (CGI).

For the theatrical release, the film was shortened by considerable content. Among other things, the Battle of Antietam and a subplot that deals with the Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth fell victim to the scissors. The full version of the film was planned for a DVD evaluation, but was initially put on hold due to the poor performance of the film at the US box office. The full film as Director's Cut was released in April 2011 in the USA on DVD and Blu-Ray and in May 2011 in Germany on Blu-Ray. The film grossed approximately $ 13 million at the box office on a budget of $ 56 million. The film was released directly on DVD in Germany.

Several actors from the film Gettysburg took their roles for the prequel again (partly in leading roles (e.g. Jeff Daniels ), partly only as cameo appearances (e.g. William Morgan Sheppard )). In the German version of the film, the voice actors of the actors who starred in both films did not maintain any continuity with Gettysburg . Executive producer Ted Turner and writer Jeff Sharaa made a cameo as Confederate officers during the film's The Bonnie Blue Flag singing scene . US Senators George Allen from Virginia, Robert Byrd from West Virginia and Phil Gramm from Texas, as well as Congressmen Ed Markey from Massachusetts and Dana Rohrabacher from California also have small roles .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Certificate of Release for Gods and Generals . Voluntary self-regulation of the film industry , April 2011 (PDF; test number: 94 822 V).
  2. ^ Film Review: Gods and Generals
  3. ^ Movie Review: Gods and Generals