Gods and Generals | Chicago Reader

Gods and Generals

Ron Maxwell follows his four-hour-plus Gettysburg (1993) with this similiarly inert prequel, focusing on the battles at Bull Run, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville. Adapted from a novel by Jeff Shaara—son of Michael Shaara, whose book The Killer Angels inspired the previous film—this second installment of a planned trilogy covers a longer period of the Civil War (from April 1861 to May 1863) and adds some sentimental civilian episodes (a courageous slave family enduring Union siege, southern belles and white-gloved officers listening to a piano recital at a Christmas fete). Maxwell continues his textbook emphasis on military maneuvers, but despite literally thousands of Civil War reenactors recruited for the film, the wide-screen canvas fails to map the tactics or evoke the terror of battle. With Robert Duvall and Jeff Daniels. 216 min.

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