Thursday, September 20, 2007

Gods and Generals: the story of the American Civil War

Genre: Drama
A more appropriate title would be: when disciplined, honorable men do the most courageous and dumbest things. I'm just half way through watching this movie - its the scene where the stupid Union general orders his entire army to march up a fortified hill and gets slaughtered for no damn good reason. The Battle of Fredericksburg. Pure utter stupidity.

Any person with half a brain spending 5 minutes thinking about the tactics used would realize that marching up a hill armed with a musket (a primitive rifle sometimes better wielded as a hammer) in tight mass formations against an enemy behind a stone wall with cannon guns - is plain suicide.

That the Union Army attempted this FIVE bloody (literally) times is beyond insane. Yet at the same time it speaks volumes about the courage of the men in that era - where words like honor, dignity, and freedom meant something.

The most amazing thing is that the enemy - the Confederates - led by the famous General Robert E. Lee - did the same thing in a subsequent battle, Gettysburg.

The man is lauded as a military genius. But it confounds me how these sorts of geniuses can order their men to do these kinds of suicidal frontal assaults. Its beyond insane. They were packed like sardines in their formations. One cannon ball - the size of a soccer ball - would hit and maim or kill a dozen men. One bullet would plow through three men.

It makes about the same sense as a school teacher ordering the school band to march down the wrong side of the highway together with the entire primary school.

That the moron generals can repeat these sorts of mistakes in WW1 shows how horribly stupid experts can get.

Anyhow this is a movie for the guys. We can admire their mind bogglingly stupid courage and thank our lucky stars we weren't born in that era. As for the women, you can see how men can be so pigheadedly stupid.

There's another similar movie - Gettysburg- done by the same director over 10 years ago- but this one looks much better.

I was particularly impressed with Robert Duvall's acting of General Robert E. Lee - he not only looks the same as the historical figure but he carried the same steely presence as General Lee was said to have. I think Duvall had to shed a lot of weight to play Lee - but anyhow look at the historical photos and see the amazing similarities. Apparently he is related to Lee. I hope to see Duvall gets to play Lee in new Civil War films.

Add-on... I found a particular good review of the film here by Rod Dreher:

"The film is about conflicting ideas of patriotism, God, personal conscience, and history. Its basic point is that Lee and Jackson (like many southerners) fought not because they loved slavery or detested the Union, but because they felt honor-bound to defend their homeland."


Shirley Matsuda said...

I usually fall asleep 10mins after war movies start because I do not believe that movies has the power and capacity to accurately and precisely depicts what war is has been a discussion in politic classes, whether women can govern better than men or not...Food for thoughts...

Kelvin Kwa said...

Has shirleymcsalad8304 ever been in a war? I dunno, maybe those shoe sales she goes to when not falling asleep in the movies that don't interest her anyway may be pretty scary and that's why she thinks she's qualified to intellectually comment. Political classes. Gimme a break.

Kelvin Kwa said...

Heh! You're right. Those Generals could be pretty stupid. But you know, the Union also created the first Rangers during that war and they were tasked with special ops behind enemy lines. Each member had a price on his head because they were so successfull.

Shirley Matsuda said...

no, i have not been to a war neither do i wish to be involved by all means. i was just quoting from several veterans who have been in world war two, whom i also had a fr
ew chances to interview with. so, maybe kkwa should redirect the coments of being intellectual to this people who had told me war movies are not the reality of war. as different people have different interests, war movies are just not my cup of tea.

Yauming YMC said...

Watch Saving Private Ryan. No one goes to sleep in the first 10 minute where they depicted the storming of Omaha Beach, one of the most realistic movie portrayals of combat warfare - even agreed by the veterans who served there. However, by warned, its very very brutal and bloody.

Shirley Matsuda said...

Well, I did and if you want to criticize me for dozing off, go ahead. Actually, I had to watch twice as I kept dozing off when I watched the first time. Nevertheless, I tried to stay awake for the second time.
I am open and do not mind the criticism. Likewise if you put someone who is not interested about classical music in a music symphony, s/he will be like me - falling asleep. However, I do like other genre of movies, that is if you ask me. I am not trying to be a smarty pants or an intellectual person in this context. Just giving my point of view. If that is insulting to anyone or a sin, I guess I cannot do anything except to just keep my opinions to myself from now onwards.

Yauming YMC said...

I'm not going to criticize you for dozing off - but why are you commenting on a particular genre of film which you have absolutely no appreciation or understanding for?

Shirley Matsuda said...

i do understand, says who that i have no understanding. you are only assuming just because i do not appreciate it, i do not understand it. mistake made. please do not assume that just because someone does not appreciate a thing or a theme or a genre or anything, it does not means the the particular person has no understanding or knowledge about it.