Yesterday was my 58th birthday, and Esperanza gave me the DVD movie, Gods and Generals starring Robert Duvall as Robert E. Lee and Jeff Daniels as Chamberlain, the Union General.

For years I have owed and treasured Gettysburg, a movie that I own on Laserdisc. Gods and Generals is intended as a prequel. It was produced by the same people and also based upon a novel by Michael Shaara who wrote Killer Angels, the novel upon which Gettysburg was based.

I thoroughly enjoyed Gods and Generals although it was not as good a movie as Gettysburg. I much prefer Robert Duval's Robert E. Lee to Martin Sheen's in the earlier film. However, while Gettysburg was focused primarily on the commands of Lee and Chamberlain, Gods and Generals is focused on the career of Stonewall Jackson.

The portrayal of Jackson seemed strained. I don't think the guy was a very good actor. But it may have been his material. The only character that got any development was Jackson, and most of that development seemed contrived.

The battle scenes, however, were excellent. I don't know Civil War history well enough to know how good the history was, but the fighting was of the same caliber I enjoyed in Gettysburg.

Perhaps the thing that most detracted from my enjoyment of the film was the Confederate bias. Of course Jackson was a southerner, so I guess I couldn't expect anything else. But I am most definitely a Yankee when it comes to my thinking about the Civil War. I don't care for books and films that make heros of the rebels. The south was fighting for its freedom and its "way of life," but its way of life was based upon the exploitation of slave labor. They were fighting for states rights, but it was primarily their right to own slaves that they were concerned about.

In any case, I can recommend the movie Gods and Generals, but only as a prequel to Gettysburg. Gettysburg is a wonder, a full four stars. Taken by itself I would give Gods and Generals only three stars.

What about you all? Have any of you seen a good movie lately? I buy a couple of DVDs every month, and I'm always looking for something good that I have overlooked.

"There is no place in this work for those who believe only
in the gospel of doom and gloom. The gospel is good
news. It is a message of triumph." --Gordon B. Hinckley
All my opinions are tentative pending further data. --JWR

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