We are almost finished with Gods and Generals. I’ve actually never scene most of the second half since I walked out of the theater just before intermission when it first ran in theaters. There is an interesting scene involving Stonewall Jackson and Sandie Pendleton in which they discuss just what is at stake if the Confederacy fails in its bid for independence. Jackson makes it clear that if the "Yankees" lose they still get to all go home with their "profits" from the war effort. This is obviously an attempt to reduce the cause of the United States government to one of profit and greed as opposed to the Confederacy which was attempting to save a "nation" as Jackson suggests in the scene. Unfortunately, this contrast seems to be alive and well in many Civil War circles to this day. We love to contrast the "Old South" of peaceful plantations with the industrial North. The point of the movie in contrasting the Confederacy and the United States in such a way is to suggest that the latter’s cause did not rise to an abstract level of political principle, but was rooted in the physical world of ego and greed. Let’s forget that the overwhelming number of Northerners farmed for a living and that not everyone in the South yearned for a society void of industry. Many young Virginians argued that limited industrial growth would place the Commonwealth back in its rightful place as a national leader. Such generalizations about regions and the people who reside therein is what animates Gods and Generals and that is why it is such a dangerous movie. It simply reinforces these stereotypes and gives the back of its hand to more complex dialogue.
Another strange scene takes place on the Rappahanock River between a lone Confederate and Union soldier who exchange tobacco and coffee. There is not one word spoken as the two men sample the others offering. Somehow the viewer is supposed to believe that everything that needs to be said can be conveyed visually. I remember being so frustrated with the characters in the movie Pearl Harbor that I found myself actually rooting for the Japanese. In this movie it is easy to imagine Turtledove’s AK-47’s entering the story and eliminating the characters on both sides.