Key battles of America's Civil War thunder across the screen in two richly scaled, rigorously authentic, powerfully compelling epics based on acclaimed historical novels by Michael Shaara. The tide of the war changes durin... more »g three fierce days of combat at Gettysburg [Disc 1], the gripping saga of the tactics, command errors and sacrifices behind the bloodiest battle ever fought on U.S. soil. Gods and Generals [Disc 2] reveals the spirited allegiances and fierce combat of earlier Civil War struggles, framing its tale with the fateful clashes at Bull Run, Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. These sprawling films remind us of the people, passions and heroism that fanned the flames of a country at war with itself.« less
Ann W. from MAPLE SHADE, NJ Reviewed on 10/25/2009...
A great DVD set,especially for Civil War buffs.
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Civil War History at it's best!
Seen Them All | SoCal Desert | 11/04/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Both of these movies are based on the books by father and son historians Michael & Jeff Shaara. Gettysburg is based on the Pulitzer Prize winning book "The Killer Angels". No school library should be without these two wonderful films and the related books. These movies were filmed using reinactors and are very realistic and very close to actual events. These films were made by Ted Turner and part of a trilogy. The third movie about the defeat of the Confederacy may or may not be completed (PLEASE Ted do the film!!). A fourth movie "Andersonville" is about the infamous southern prison camp (not for the squeamish!!). I cannot recommend these movies highly enough. They are GREAT films for every American to view at least once so that they understand how terrible the Civil War really was. Very entertaining and not to be missed.
Great value for over eight hours of Civil War cinema!
ANT | Crofton, MD USA | 07/08/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Since many of you reading this are likely familiar with the movies themselves, or the stories therein, I will refrain from repeating them here (as so many other reviewers have already done). Allow me, though, to comment on the nature of the discs themselves and a brief summary of the content therein.
First of all, this is an amazing value for the price. Not only do you get "Gettysburg," which runs over 4 hours in length, but you also receive "Gods & Generals," which is an additional three-and-a-half hours. When combined with the special features (interviews, documentaries, etc.), you have well over eight hours of Civil War film in one slender DVD case!
(Since it has both discs in one normal case, it will not take up any additional room on your shelf. Additionally, the construction of said case will prevent the discs from sliding about and scratching on each other. I have yet to have any problems with either disc in removing or replacing it from it's holder, as well).
Regarding the content, let me say first that the special features on both discs are impressive. There are no deleted scenes that I recall, but there are some great documentaries, maps, interviews, and bios for each movie.
As far as the movies themselves, "Gettysburg" is by far the better film. There are some amazing performances on both sides of the blue and gray, particularly Richard Jordan's last role, Stephen Lang, Jeff Daniels, Tom Berenger, Martin Sheen, C. Thomas Howell, Kevin Conway, and Sam Elliot. In fact, it's hard to point out any poor performances at all. (Fuqua's makeup wasn't extraordinarily convincing, but otherwise, not a bad J.E.B. Stuart). What I also appreciated greatly was the equal treatment that each side is given. While we are introduced to more Confederate personalities than Union, there is equal screen time given to both sides. As the main dramatic thrust comes from the Confederates (climaxing with Pickett's Charge near the end of the film), it is understandable why more would be known and shown from their standpoint. Still, Maxwell treats both sides fairly and with equal emotion. The recreation down to the finest detail was exemplary and a standard by which all historical films should follow.
I disagree with the decrying that is done over "Gods & Generals," though, but I have to concede a few points. Perhaps most noticeable is the fact that instead of one battle, G&G spans two years almost and several key battles. Instead of focusing on a singular moment (as in "Gettysburg"), the film tries too hard to squeeze that much history into a slightly shorter timeframe. Additionally, the movie definitely has a certain Confederate slant to it. In some action sequences, the Union losses are exaggerated to comparative invincibility on the Confederate side. (This was somewhat true at Fredericksburg, though, and that particular battle is quite fair to history). There is certainly also much more Confederate content, as the Union side is almost treated as a background player. Granted, the story mainly revolves around Stonewall Jackson and his career in the war, but even major players like Lee are nearly glossed over, despite strong performances (including Robert Duvall's as the aforementioned Lee). Considering the tide of the war, as well as the timeline to that point, though, this is somewhat forgivable. There is the same attention to detail and accuracy that made "Gettysburg" so great, but it is nearly lost to the overwhelming slant that the film contains. (Supposedly, the final book in the Shaara trilogy, "The Last Full Measure," takes on the Union side more so than this film, but it remains to be seen whether or not that will ever be made). I would like to add, though, that the opening sequence alone is worth picking up this film. Mary Fahl's haunting and moving song "Going Home" is set against a backdrop of various flags of regiments from both sides of the conflict. Though this equality in treatment is not carried through the film, the sequence itself is spellbinding and emotionally charged. As I said, the opening credits alone are worth viewing.
Overall, I highly recommend this dual collection. The main reason why I could not give this review five stars was for the shortcomings of "Gods & Generals." Still, that should not hamper your purchase of this amazing collection. For a very slight increase in price (at last check), you can own both films with a grand total of over eight hours of footage (likely more than nine with all of the various extras). Not only is this a tremendous bargain, but they are wonderful films as well. "Gettysburg" will long stand as the far better movie, as "Gods & Generals" might have attempted to overachieve, but they are wonderful as educational tools and standards for military history cinema that will not soon fade away."
The best on the Civil War
Seth J. Frantzman | Jerusalem, Israel | 05/03/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"These two films are the real thing, civil war movies at their best, in addition to great drama and acting taking ones' breath away. They cover the first three years of the Civil war including the battles of Bull Run, Fredricksberg, Chancellorsville and Gettysburg(Antietem is not included).
Gods and Generals follows the stories of Joshua Lawrence Chamberlin and Stonewall Jackson but is mostly the story of Stonewall Jackson and his leadership and religious beleifs. This is a wonderful folm shot on location with many reenactors and brilliant acting, a fair depiction of both sides and real poetry in the language.
Gettysburg covers the three day battle that is seen as deciding the war and concentrates on Robert E. Lee, James Longstreet and Joshua L. Chamberlin and his main company. A brilliant film full of tragedy and love.
Seth J. Frantzman
Worth it for Gettysburg alone
Trevor Willsmer | London, England | 01/15/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Ironies abound: while Gettysburg was made for television but ended up with a theatrical release, yet despite a $60m budget, a huge cast and being shot in 2.35:1 widescreen, Gods and Generals looks like it would have been more at home on TV. In some ways it's almost the most expensive home movie ever shot, with Ted Turner paying for this account of the early years of the American Civil War out of his own pocket. For the first hour it's almost as if the Union never existed, the film shown entirely from the Southern side, and with a very partisan view at that (all down to Yankee aggression, with Fort Sumpter conveniently dismissed in a single line). Too often lengthy quotations take the place of dialogue and even the better actors in the cast often seem ill at ease while the surprisingly weak daylight photography and poor CGi matte painting in early scenes giving it an air of storybook unreality. Indeed, Ronald Maxwell's approach at times seems pure D.W. Griffith, with a fondness for awkward tableaux and unconvincing sentiment (poor Mira Sorvino gets a couple of particularly painfully hearts-and-flowers scenes to deliver as a consolation prize for missing out on playing Joan of Arc when Maxwell's version was dropped in the wake of Luc Besson's film). There are a few moments here and there - an intimate scene between Stonewall Jackson and his wife confiding his doubts, a scene between Jeff Daniels and Kevin Conway's sergeant about friends on the other side - but as the over-ambitious film tries to cram too much history into its four hour running time (and still scenes filmed dealing with Lincoln, John Wilkes Booth and the Battle of Antietem didn't make the cut) the people just get lost.
Thankfully, the second half rallies considerably as the film reaches the Battle of Fredericksburg and the 20th Maine's disastrous charge, and the contradictions in Stephen Lang's "Stonewall" Jackson, a deeply religious man yet one who advocated taking no prisoners, become more interesting despite the film's determination to turn him into across between Jesus Christ and a vengeful Old Testament prophet. Yet sadly the lasting impression is of a film that is too sprawling and unfocussed for its own good and one that not only either needed to be a lot longer or a lot shorter but also much better written. As for the somewhat nonsensical title, it's an abbreviation of the novel's Faith in Gods and Generals. Incidentally, be warned that the DVD has one of the worst side breaks ever. Some fairly decent DVD extras, but the lack of deleted scenes implies a director's cut may be in the offing some time in the future.
Gettysburg is actually the second part in an intended trilogy that will now probably never be completed in the wake of the dismal box-office for the bloated Gods and Generals. Thankfully it gains more by having a smaller canvas, focussing on one single battle and largely on three actions - Buford's inspired initial defense on the first day, Little Round Top and Pickett's Charge - and by seeing the action from the viewpoint of both sides throughout. The characters are better drawn, the dialogue feels more natural and you get much more of a sense of what a human tragedy the war was. As a British observer on the Confederate side points out, it all boils down to "same people, different dreams."
The problem with most epics devoted to single battles or campaigns (Waterloo, Zulu Dawn, The Battle of Neretva etc) is that without a single dominating personality they often get so bogged down with history or strategy that the human element gets lost, with a succession of stars acting almost like anonymous interchangeable sports commentators only there to explain what's going on for the layman. Gettysburg has its share of characters primarily there for exposition, but by narrowing its focus to a few of them and drawing on their own letters and memoirs it's able to give them a little more depth and personality. Martin Sheen's Lee's increasingly wrong-headed strategy as he consigns more and more men to pointless deaths with a homespun rationale that leads to horrifying casualties contrasts well with Tom Berenger's more cautious Longstreet gradually realising that the tide has turned against them while Jeff Daniels' awkward but sincere Lawrence Chamberlain gives a humane and decent voice to the Union's case. Richard Jordan is genuinely affecting in his last role - his final scene is even more moving with the knowledge that he really was dying at the time - and even George Lazenby even turns up briefly. As a result, there's more involvement in what's happening and more understanding of what's at stake on a personal level to both sides during the battle. Although shot as a TV miniseries before being released theatrically, it actually looks like a feature film, and one that manages to hold the interest over its four hour running time. It's such an impressive piece of work that you can't help but wonder why so many of the same people got it so wrong so often on Gods and Generals.
Excellent extras on the double-sided DVD, but sadly none of the deleted scenes from the 270-minute laserdisc director's cut."
Civil War Buffs
Mirl | North Carolina | 03/09/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"My son's and I have recently moved to North Carolina and have an interest in the Civil War. These 2 movies are excellently done. The visual and audio effects are both tasteful and artful. One of my son's was studying the Civil War in High School and he enjoyed the movies very much. I would recommend either of these movies to any one, not just Civil War enthusiasts! Pop some pop corn and enjoy these movies with the whole family. However, I would want to watch them first before allowing young viewers to watch them. They are war movies, afterall.