The rise and fall of confederate general Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, as he meets with military success against the Union from 1861 to 1863, when he is accidentally killed by his own soldiers... Read allThe rise and fall of confederate general Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, as he meets with military success against the Union from 1861 to 1863, when he is accidentally killed by his own soldiers.The rise and fall of confederate general Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, as he meets with military success against the Union from 1861 to 1863, when he is accidentally killed by his own soldiers.
What I liked about the movie: I thought Lang did an excellent job portraying Jackson. I was deeply moved by his final scene in the film.
The attention to detail was good; overall it was historically accurate--with some exceptions.
The costumes looked good.
I appreciated the show of how Christianity influenced many in the Civil War, such as Jackson and Lee.
I liked the fact that many from Gettysburg reprised their roles in this film, although there were some who couldn't, which was a little disappointing.
What I didn't like or wished was better about the movie: The fake beards were more than obvious in this film, with the exception of Jackson's and Lee's, but this is relatively minor to the overall film.
I thought, with maybe the exception of the Fredericksburg battle, the depiction of the battle scenes were not nearly as well done as in Gettysburg; but to be fair, there were more battles to cover in this film. Gettysburg only had one, meaning more time could be given to the details of the battle.
The battle of Antietam was not in the movie at all, not even mentioned, which is very disappointing given its significance and effects.
Some of the CGI is poorly done (i.e., very obvious), but, again, this is a small part of the movie and in my opinion neither makes nor breaks it.
Some of the speeches were a bit stiff and seemed contrived, particularly Chamberlain's speech before the battle of Fredricksburg.
Not enough time was given to developing the characters of Lee, Chamberlain, and Hancock, all of whom are important in the novel. In fact, in contrast to the film, the novel gives most time to Lee, not Jackson. To be fair, however, novels usually are better than their film counterparts given the constraints of time.
My thoughts on some of the common complaints about the movie: Some complain there wasn't enough realism as to the carnage of war. To that I say there was enough to get the point across, and for myself, it is refreshing from time to time to see a movie that doesn't rely too heavily on blood and guts. This is not meant to be a blood and guts movie. The novel is even less bloody. Anyone who wants to see a blood and guts war movie should buy or rent Saving Private Ryan, Full Metal Jacket, Hamburger Hill, the Patriot, Braveheart, etc.
Others complain that there were too many poetic speeches. Indeed there were many speeches, but that was also true of Gettysburg, which most view as a good movie. I didn't mind the speeches so much other than they sometimes truncated the character in such a way that the audience fails to see their visceral humanity. As stated above, the only speech I thought was a bit over the top was Chamberlain's before the battle of Fredricksburg. It seemed forced, showy, and odd that the whole regiment would stand motionless and quiet for so long to hear him go on and on. Clearly it was intended to be a poignant moment showing historical parallels between the American Civil War and Roman history. But the whole scene ends up feeling staged and apathetic.
Others complain about the strong emphasis on religion. As stated above, I found this emphasis refreshing, for certainly Jackson and Lee were very devout Christian men. Christianity was a part of the ethos of this country at that time and affected many in both north and south.
Still others complain about the pro-southern perspective being so strong. While I admit there is an imbalance between the northern and southern perspectives, which clearly favors the southern view, I also think this only stands to reason, since the overall focus of the film is clearly on Jackson, a southerner. And given the fact that many other movies often underplay the southern perspective (i.e., it was fought over State's rights) or ignore it altogether, some will find this movie's emphasis a refreshing change. On the other hand, the clear downplay of the role and effect of slavery in this film will no doubt trouble many Americans.
Finally, others complain that the movie is too long. But I find this to be a misnomer. What most really mean by this is that the movie is not entertaining enough to justify such a length. This is not the first long film in cinematic history. Other films were very long and yet praised as wonderful (Terms of Endearment, Dances With Wolves, Gone with the Wind, Braveheart, Lord of the Rings, etc.). The real issue here, I believe, is that this movie for many is too "slow" or "mundane" in their estimation. This, I think, is a result of our becoming so accustomed to roller coaster rides at the movies. If it isn't constantly exciting or humorous or action-packed, it needs to be short. I suppose that in a TV age wherein we are accustom to pure entertainment compacted into ten-minute blocks of time separated by pithy, entertaining commercials, this complaint ought not surprise us, given the historical orientation of this film. But I think such a complaint is evidence of a deeper cultural problem, which should concern us all.
My opinion who will like this movie: many Historians, Teachers, and Homeschooling parents; most southerners; Civil War reenactors; many Christians.
My opinion who will not like this movie: Most northerners, most African Americans, many Liberals, most in Hollywood.
My opinion on how the movie will fare: It will likely not last long in the theaters. Most critics will hate it. It will come out on DVD/Home video sooner than most movies. It will likely not rake in as much money as it cost to make. However, I hope to be proven wrong here. Though not without flaws, I believe it is worth seeing and discussing.
- Feb 26, 2003