7.2/10
17
2 user

House of the Generals (2000)

10 million Ukrainians lost their lives in the first half of the 20th Century. 600,000 Ukrainian Jews perished, victims of Hitler and Stalin. Ukraine amassed thousands of World War II ... See full summary »

Director:

Dan Spigel

Writers:

Grant James, Dan Spigel (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Credited cast:
Farah White ... Liza Kharacter
Michelle Irving Michelle Irving ... Gitel Polovoya
Elena Burunova Elena Burunova ... Sonya Kharacter
Jennifer Harris ... Liza Kharacter as a child
Grant James ... Herschel Kharacter
Luke Adams ... Don Kharacter
Bill Kent Bill Kent ... Sasha
Stephanie Garner ... Ganya Kharacter (as Stephanie Swanson)
Catherine Holmes Catherine Holmes ... Anna Cherkova
Peter Sanders Peter Sanders ... Abrasha Minkin
Matt Prescott Morton Matt Prescott Morton ... Serge (as Matt Morton)
Jimmy Costello Jimmy Costello ... Russian Gen. Vladimir Plotvich
Roger Hamilton Roger Hamilton ... Yakov
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Cynthia Aguiar Cynthia Aguiar ... Rene
Nellja Allen Nellja Allen ... Train passenger
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Storyline

10 million Ukrainians lost their lives in the first half of the 20th Century. 600,000 Ukrainian Jews perished, victims of Hitler and Stalin. Ukraine amassed thousands of World War II monuments. Half of the Russian losses occurred in Ukraine. Based on a true story. Written by Dan Spigel <danspigel@houseofthegenerals.com>

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Plot Keywords:

independent film | See All (1) »

Genres:

Drama

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Details

Official Sites:

Ganya Film

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Filming Locations:

Dallas, Texas, USA See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Ganya Film Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Color:

Color
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film contains a scene where several characters are loaded onto silver-colored vintage railway boxcars. As of early 2018, the set for this sequence still exists behind the Albertson's grocery store on Crawford Street in downtown Denison, Texas. See more »

Goofs

Poor composition of the green-screen shot when the Kharacter family boards the train; the train car on the left appears too large and the floor levels do not match. (Passenger train cars are always built with uniform floor levels to ensure that boarding platforms and adjacent-car floors will always line up.) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Ambitious and noble concept, clumsy execution, but good costume design!
19 July 2016 | by carguychrisSee all my reviews

I stumbled upon this movie several years ago at a gun show in Sherman, Texas. (For those unfamiliar with gun show culture, particularly readers from other countries, the non-gun-related products hawked at these shows can be quite intriguing, a slice of kitsch Americana often untempered by notions of high culture, good taste, or political correctness... but I digress.) I didn't buy a copy at the time, but I did put it on my To-Do list, and finally got around to ordering the DVD.

The film is a story of persecuted Jews in Ukraine, spanning decades from the Russian Revolution to World War II, encompassing Nazi invasion, partisan persecution, and subsequent flight to Israel. Here's the clincher: It was filmed in North Texas on a near-zero budget! Given the inclusion of the epic 1943 Kursk tank battle, this film has possibly the most extreme ambition-to-budget ratio of anything in recent cinema history.

But does it work as a film? No, not really.

The film supposedly follows the memoirs of the real-life Liza Kharacter Spigel. The story starts in 1917 in Ukraine. The Bolshevik Revolution occurs, and a Czarist general (hence the movie's name) abandons his house to the Jewish Kharacter family. Bohemian Abrasha and Noah Minkin move in to escape persecution in their homeland of Latvia. Liza and Abrasha begin a relationship, as do Noah and opera singer Gitel Polovoya. Then the war breaks out, the Jews start being rounded up by the Nazis, and the family is broken up. A Nazi general moves into the house. Much drama and battle footage ensues.

If this sounds complex for 111 minutes, that's because it is. The faithful retelling may underlie the movie's major stumbling block: an apparent unawareness of the maxim that the difference between reality and fiction is that fiction has to make sense. The film has too many characters (no pun intended) and too many parallel narratives to stay coherent. It's riddled with plot cul-de- sacs such as the seemingly irrelevant inclusion of a Nazi massacre of American troops in Belgium. (Weren't we just watching a movie about Ukrainian Jews?) There are enough good ideas here for several more thoroughly fleshed-out scripts, but the film doesn't keep moving in one direction long enough for any of the ideas to work.

And then we get to the film's technical execution.

The movie features a large cast that includes some veteran character actors (albeit in bit parts), good costumes, a large number of filming locations, and the use of real vintage military armored vehicles. However, several lead roles are filled by people with no other film credits, and the movie is badly hamstrung by community-theater-level acting. This is compounded by consistently muffled sound, unconvincing Ukrainian accents, and tinny droning synthesized soundtrack music. The cinematography and editing are serviceable but artless, with the look of a small-town TV production. Despite the dense plot, the film frequently drags, and feels longer than 111 minutes. For a historical drama, it contains several asinine historical mistakes, such as placing the Bolshevik Revolution in the wrong year! Lastly, the special effects are simply laughable, particularly the crude CGI and the unconvincing and obvious miniatures seen throughout the battle sequences; this would be funny if the film were about people fighting giant monsters, but it's annoying in a movie with serious subject matter.

It's unsurprising that the film has been ignored by the press and has no apparent distribution outside of mail-order DVDs. Since the plot sounds thoroughly depressing (the film probably would be if it were more coherent), it would need at least decent acting and production values before most people would pay attention.

Perhaps a reboot is in order.


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