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‘Gods and Generals’ portrays strong faith on both sides of war

ATLANTA (BP)–A prominent Christian media critic is urging evangelicals to support “Gods and Generals,” a new Civil War movie which opens in theaters across the country Friday, Feb. 21.

“The entire future of this incredible, faith-filled movie rests on how well it does in the first few weeks and, indeed, the very first weekend at the box office,” Ted Baehr told those attending a screening of the movie in Atlanta in January.

Baher, chairman of the Christian Film and Television Commission, writes a syndicated column about entertainment based on biblical values. He is also the coauthor of a book about the film, titled “Faith in God and Generals,” published by the Broadman & Holman division of LifeWay Christian Resources.

“This epic Warner Bros. Pictures/Ted Turner Pictures release is filled with the passion, drama, life and death of our nation’s darkest hour, wonderfully acted by Hollywood’s finest talent,” Baehr said. “Most importantly, it captures the triumph of faith and love in the midst of tragedy – a message we need to hear as the world continues to struggle with war and division.”

Based on a novel by the same title by Jeff Shaara, Gods and Generals begins in early 1861 and continues through 1863, climaxing with the Battle of Chancellorsville. It is actually a prequel to the 1993 film “Gettysburg,” featuring much of the same cast and intended to be the first film in a trilogy of which Gettysburg would be the second and “The Last Full Measure,” covering the last two years of the war, would be the finale.

The film’s $60 million production budget was four times larger than the budget for the Gettysburg film. Much of Gods and Generals was shot on location in Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia, with 158 speaking roles and thousands of Civil War re-enactors.

The film largely focuses on Confederate General Stonewall Jackson, portrayed by Stephen Lang, who played General Picket in Gettysburg, and Confederate General Robert E. Lee, played by Robert Duvall. The strong Christian faith of both men is unapologetically portrayed in the film.

Although not many professional critics have yet published reviews of Gods and Generals, postings on various movie and Civil War websites run the gamut, with some describing the movie as too long (three-and-a-half hours) and inaccurate, while others praise it as “the surprise movie of the year … a must see.”

Many of those attending the Atlanta screening appreciated the accurate representation of the strong faith of those on both sides of the war and its faithfulness to the Shaara book. Most agreed the film was long, but several who had read Shaara’s books felt the length was not a negative. The film is rated PG-13 due to sustained battle sequences.

Additional information about the movie, its writer/producer/director Ron Maxwell, who also directed “Gettysburg,” and trailers of the film are available at the film’s website, www.godsandgenerals.com.

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  • Martin King