Jeffrey Shaara's 1996 novel (encompassing events of 1861-63, specifically the Virginian battles of Bull Run, Fredericksburg,
and Chancellorsville), Maxwell sacrifices depth for scope while focusing on the devoutly religious "Stonewall" Jackson (Stephen
Lang), whose Confederate campaigns endear him to Gen. Robert E. Lee (Robert Duvall, giving the film's most subtle performance).
Battles are impeccably recreated using 7,500 Civil War re-enactors and sanitized PG-13 violence, their authenticity compromised
by tasteful discretion and endless scenes of grandiloquent dialogue. Still, as the first part of a trilogy that ends with
The Last Full Measure, this is a superbly crafted, instantly essential film for Civil War study. For all its misguided priorities,
Gods and Generals is a noble effort, honoring faith and patriotism with the kind of reverence that has all but vanished from
American film – but provides abundant proof that historical accuracy is no guarantee of great storytelling. It is a
sweeping epic charting the early years of the Civil War and how campaigns unfolded from Manassas to the Battle of Fredericksburg, and
this video was the prequel to the film Gettysburg, which explores
the motivations of the combatants and examines the lives of those who waited at home.