Gods and Generals
A film by Ron Maxwell

Ron Maxwells' Autograph on ticket

 

On Wednesday June 25th 2003, I had the pleasure of attending the Scottish premiere of Gods and Generals. Being invited to attend by Warner Bros(thanks Chloe) I was apprehensive about making the 370 mile round trip from Inverness to Glasgow to see the film, what would I think of it? would I like it?
After a short introduction by Ron Maxwell the film maker/director the lights dimmed and the film started.
I had seen chat on some of the CW chatrooms complaining of too many parlor scenes but I have to say that was not the case.
The film starts with Colonel Robert E Lee being offered command of the US Army, which we all know he declines. We then get some in depth scenes containing the other two main characters Major Thomas Jackson of VMI at Lexington Va and Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain of Boyden College, Maine. Slowly the plot unfolds and we see the transportation of Confederate troops to Manassas Junction to take part in 1st Manassas, with the immortal line "there stands Jackson like a Stonewall", the mystery is still not made clear was it referring to Jackson himself or his brigade.

The battle fought out between re-enactors from the North and the South was very realistic and gives a sense of the carnage and horror that took place, the hand to hand combat was scary to watch, I must admit I felt the rifle butts even sitting in the safety of my seat.

We then move on to the siege of Fredricksburg and the carnage of Marye's Heights, it leaves you in awe of the bravery of the men who kept on charging the Confederate positions behind the stone dyke

The scenes of Chancellorsville again were fantastic, the sadness of Jackson being wounded by his own troops, brings a lump to your throat.

Once again there were some brilliant performances from the cast, notable:-

Jeff Daniels (Col Joshua Chamberlain), gave his all portraying the Schoolmaster come soldier.

Steven Lang (Gen. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson) after seeing his performance as Pickett in Gettysburg, I didn't think he could surpass that performance, but he did. Befriending the little girl, making an angel for her Christmas tree, and finally reduced to tears by her death for me was a masterpiece of acting ability. His ability as an actor is brilliant, WELL DONE Stephen.

C. Thomas Howell (Lt. Thomas Chamberlain)

Kevin Conway (Sgt. "Buster" Kilrain) Thankfully there was no "Colonel darling" as in Gettysburg, that apart his portrayal of the hardened regular was well portrayed.

 

The film as its prequel "Gettysburg" owes much to the Thousands of re-enactors who helped make the film so realistic. The brilliant direction of Ron Maxwell, has brought another classic to the Civil War fanatics like myself.

The musical score again was very good including Bob Dylan's' contribution.

 

My only hope is that the DVD version is released in UK before to long.

It was nice to see some local Re-enactors from the 43rd North Carolina Inf., Well done Bill Brown, Wayne Thomas and comrades

 

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