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Parents' Guide to

Gods and Generals

By Nell Minow, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 12+

Meticulous Civil War story runs a little long.

Movie PG-13 2003 216 minutes
Gods and Generals Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 13+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 15+

Disappointingly slanted and pushes the Lost Cause myth

I recall the books being very balanced and very well-written. However, the movie is very slanted towards the Confederacy. It's very clearly from a producer who believes the Civil War should be called "the war of northern aggression". It very clearly omits any references to the fact that slavery is clearly identified in the letters of secession as the primary motivator. The book, from my recollection, starts with two soldiers who were fighting together but would end up on opposite sides. It is much more balanced in its treatment of the two sides. The movie, on the other hand, spends nearly the first hour "explaining" that the South was just fighting because Lincoln was going to "invade". It then spends the next two and a half hours focusing on making the South "freedom fighters" and the North as happless pawns for Lincoln trying to subjugate the South. It's focus is on the South and trying to convince us that the war has nothing to do with slavery. I never realized this as a young man. It does a very good job of slyly telling a slanted view of the start of the War.
age 10+

I Only Gave It a 10 For the Literacy of Kids

My only concern would be that kids wouldn't appreciate it (other than it's historical inaccuracies). It's an important part of American history that should be common knowledge, and I feel like people forget all too often. Although fabricated a little due to it's historically fictitious nature, it still holds true to the events of the war and truths of battle. There are dead bodies but they aren't the focus of the film. The characters, who happen to be real people, are amazing (especially the Chamberlains) and I wish that there were this good of role models in other war movies. Truly a pivotal movie in looking at the American Civil War, and as a historian I would like to point out that it's not just for Americans. The American Civil War was extremely influential among Europeans at the time as well, and was a very big part of a changing tide in military history around the world. I would go so far as to suggest it be shown in middle school classrooms, as I saw Glory in a middle school setting and loved it. Not gonna lie, Gettysburg was better, but this one is still pretty good and gets a bad rep for Jackson's screen time. It's true, Jackson's screen time was obnoxious at times and was fairly irrelevant as well as fiction, but as long as people understand what's fact and what's fiction then it's okay.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (2 ):
Kids say (4 ):

Sometimes, what is best for history is not best for drama -- and here, the filmmaker's relentless even-handedness removes whatever drama the story might have had. He makes every one of the characters endlessly honorable, devoted to God, home, and family, good to the slaves, and able to spout poetry, the classics, or the Bible in the midst of the direst circumstances. Its PG-13 television-ready (it will be expanded to six hours for a miniseries) level of violence may make it suitable for junior high history class field trips, but does not truly convey the tragic carnage of the war. All the soldiers have nice uniforms and enough to eat. Officers at the front get visits from their devoted wives at places that 150 years later will be made into quaint bed and breakfast inns. And everyone is on the right side.

And -- everyone encompasses a lot of people. Hard core Civil War buffs may be able to follow the endless series of characters and their advances and retreats, all identified with brief subtitles, but anyone else will have a hard time.

Movie Details

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