CIVIL WAR MEMORY
The Online Home of Kevin M. Levin
This is a deleted scene from the movie, “Gods and Generals”.
I threw up just a little bit.
I'll get you some Tums. Come on Larry it is a cut piece of film that someone got off the Directors cutting room floor. Relax 95% of the general population will never see it and very few have seen the movie.
It's a cut piece of film that reflects Maxwell's oversimplified and distorted view of the Civil War. It's modern-day Lost Cause garbage that confuses the place of black southerners in Confederate ranks.
That is the reason I have not wasted my time or money to watch it yet. It got panned all over. I might rent it during Christmas break to see if you and Larry are just over reacting about the whole thing.
Best of luck to you. I failed to get through it even after paying to see it in the theater.
It can't be worse than Birth of a Nation which is a Klan Propaganda piece.
I actually think that Birth of a Nation is 10x more sophisticated and interesting compared with Gods and Generals.
I would actually agree that Birth of the Nation is a better film. The most disturbing thing about Birth of a Nation is that is both (exactly as Msimons says) a Klan propaganda piece and simultaneously a landmark breakthrough in American film making. You want to ignore it but you cannot.
Oh I wish it had been in the movie–it tips the director's hand and shows the Lost Cause interpretation that is at the heart of the film.
This scene perfectly represents how this film fails on so many levels to address the most complicated aspects of the war. Notice the emphasis: “this here Rebel gave me my freedom papers.” Of course, there is no analysis beyond that. No mentioning of the numerous reasons Southerners did such things during the war. The way the film portrays it here is designed to elicit sympathy for the Confederate cause: “see, the Rebels didn’t fight for slavery, because this one freed his slave!!!” Of course, many slaveholders emancipated their slaves when the Yankee lines got close enough to be a threat, and these emancipations were often nestled within contracts for slaves to continue work for their former masters. Could this “Rebel” have freed his slave out of the kindness of his heart? Its certainly possible, but then it still begs the question of why he only freed him during the war, as opposed to, say, before the war. And certainly, the film never emphasizes those refugee slaveholders, like the ones in North Mississippi, who fled further south to keep their “property” out of Yankee hands. The Lost Cause is incredibly sneaky sometimes.
The act of emancipating one's slave was much more complicated than merely giving him/her “freedom papers,” whatever those might be. The laws varied from state to state, but they always involved a court process, and in many, if not most, southern states also had other stringent conditions, put into place during the decades prior to the war to prevent emancipations. How would a rebel soldier, away from home and in wartime conditions, have gone through the necessary legal process? A slave owner might well have said to his/her slaves as the Union army approached, “you're free to go,” with bitterness or perhaps hopes of enticing the slaves to stay and work, but such statements carried no legal weight and had the Confederacy ultimately won would not have been viewed as legitimate.
You are absolutely right. In fact, some states made illegal to free slaves at various points or mandated that the freed slave must leave the state.
The bigger problem with the scene is (along with much of the rest of the film) that it fails to move beyond the level of cliche. The viewer is left with little understanding as to why these black men are with the army and how they conceptualize the war. The individual in this scene is confused about what he will do next now that his former master is dead. All he knows to do is to escort the body home and then he will take stock as opposed to the tens of thousands who are fleeing to the Union army or free territory. I would love to know why this scene was deleted.
My Civil War Memory class spent three days viewing and analyzing specific scenes from “Birth of a Nation”. I hope to give them a sense of change over time as well as an understanding of the continued popularity of Lost Cause themes.
I think the filmmaker here has exploited the theater/film/literature tradition of suspension of disbelief, where I'm willing to set aside judgement in favor of being entertained. I'll do that for a James Bond movie, but not so much for a so-called historical film. Maybe that's why Maxwell deleted this scene – he might have known that he was stretching our suspension of disbelief beyond its limits.
I would like to believe that, but I suspect that it was simply deleted owing to the length of the movie. Cutting this particular scene still left us with a 4-hour plus movie of Civil War silliness.
Is this Black man supposed to be William Rose and his “boss” supposed to have been Maxcy Gregg? I know Gregg was an aetheist but maybe he had some deathbed conversion to Christianity? I also know Rose was Gregg’s body servant and was with him in the Seminole Wars and the Mexican War and was at his bedside when he died. I don’t know if Gregg posthumously gave Rose his freedom but he did give him his gold watch. Rose decorated Gregg’s grave in Columbia, South Carolina every Confederate Memorial Day
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