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GODS AND GENERALS


CAST: Jeff Daniels, Stephen Lang, Robert Duvall, Mira Sorvino, Kevin Conway, C. Thomas Howell, Frankie Faison

DIRECTOR: Ronald F. Maxwell

 

"At nearly four hours long, it's a shapeless, undramatic mess,dreadfully written, directed and edited, with its generally able cast hamstrung by unspeakable dialogue…it is so lacking in flesh-and-blood characters, so unclear in its depiction of battles like Bull Run, and so nauseating in its gruesome sentimentality that it is all but unwatchable…The only slave you meet is a happy one who defends her master's house against Union looters. The only other black character is a freed man who wants to defend his state against the Northern ‘invader’ …In two words: a stinker." --Jonathan Foreman, The New York Post

"This is history with a capital H; therefore no humor or spontaneous passion is permitted to leak through the solemnity. Panoramic, meticulously reconstructed battle sequences are interspersed with long-winded reflections by legendary historic figures musing in ministerial tones…‘Gods and Generals’ goes out of its way to follow the example of ‘Gone With the Wind’ in sanitizing the South's treatment of African-Americans. Its one-sided vision shows freed and about-to-be-freed slaves cleaving to their benign white masters and loyally serving the Confederate army." --Stephen Holden, The New York Times

"Robert Duvall gets star billing, but he's hardly in the film, and when he does show up, he sounds as if he's reading from cue cards. Jeff Daniels is equally bad. The movie's technical quality is inexcusably lax. And how could such a lengthy tale of the American South find time for only two black characters, both grotesquely one-dimensional stereotypes? Hollywood has produced many dubious depictions of the Civil War, starting with ‘The Birth of a Nation’ in 1915, and this stands with the sorriest of the lot." --David Sterritt, Christian Science Monitor

"The 3-hour-and-35-minute ‘Gods and Generals’ is a trial to sit through: stiff, ponderous, fluttering in its ‘poetry,’ and crudely simplistic as an apologia for the Confederate ideology … As history, ‘Gods and Generals’ is a whitewash, literally; it takes pains to depict Jackson as the best friend a black cook ever had, as if that ameliorated the South's treatment of slaves." --Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly

"…an often striking 3 1/2-hour Civil War epic that has the unfortunate effect of overtipping the dramatic scales in favor of the Southern generals and turning almost everybody into waxen idols who spout flowery rhetoric. Despite remarkable battle sequences and faithful research, ‘Gods’ so idealizes the Confederates, especially wise Robert E. Lee (Robert Duvall) and brave Thomas ‘Stonewall’ Jackson (Stephen Lang), that the finished film tends to suggest that the Southern rebellion was a noble cause and its leaders were Olympian heroes…the movie we see here, though admirable in parts, is numbing as a whole." --Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune

"…a stiff and stilted historical pageant that somehow manages to make the savage tumult of thousands pitched against thousands seem not so much dreadul as dreadfully dull…it moves with the plodding purposefulness and graceless gait of someone taking a long hike up a steep hill while weighed down with a heavy backpack…there are times when you may feel the movie has come to a complete halt, and might actually start moving in reverse." --Joe Leydon, San Francisco Examiner