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GODS AND GENERALS

Introduction
The road to Gods and Generals began with an earlier quest to make another film; from his first reading of Michael Shaara's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Killer Angels, Ron Maxwell (Gods and Generals producer/director/screenwriter) was determined to bring the story of the Battle of Gettysburg to the screen. He accomplished his mission many years later when the film premiered as Gettysburg to critical and popular acclaim. Following its theatrical debut in 1993, Gettysburg was released a year later as an immensely successful miniseries.

Sadly, Michael Shaara passed away in 1988, and never saw his book brought to the screen. Maxwell, who directed and wrote the screenplay of the acclaimed epic film, encouraged Shaara's son Jeff to author Gods and Generals. Although Jeff had never written before, the book became a critically acclaimed bestseller, as was his second novel The Last Full Measure, the third book in the Civil War trilogy begun by his father.

"Gods and Generals is a mosaic of American life,” says Ron Maxwell. "It takes the Gettysburg characters we came to know back to l861 and introduces new figures, like ‘Stonewall' Jackson and his wife Anna, Fanny Chamberlain and the Beale family. I think it is vitally important for the next generation to understand and contemplate the Civil War. It is our Iliad; American, yet universal, touching on themes that transcend time and place and nation, echoing from the American Civil War to the Civil War in Rome. Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon to bring Roman legions into Rome, violating Roman law, in the same way that Lincoln sent Federal troops across the Rappahannock, violating, in the view of the seceded states of the Confederacy, what they perceived to be the voluntary pact of the Constitution and American law. This story teaches us that freedom and liberty have never come cheaply and that very few generations ago, this country paid a tremendous price for those privileges.”

"This is not simply a war movie,” cautions associate producer Dennis Frye. "It's a movie about people who are caught and trapped by war, whose lives are changed by war, and unfortunately, some of whom will die because of this war. When people see this film, Thomas Jackson no longer will be a name on a page in a book – he now becomes real. He becomes human. He's no longer dust in the grave.”

General Jackson is uncannily brought to life by Tony-nominated actor Stephen Lang, who played Major General George E. Pickett in Gettysburg.

"Jackson was a man of absolute heroic stature,” says Lang. "He was both complex and contradictory – an old testament warrior with new testament faith. Portraying him required all I had and more.”

Thomas Jackson was a professor of natural and experimental philosophy and instructor of artillery at the prestigious Virginia Military Institute until the war began. His courage and devotion to his faith were reflected in his fearlessness in battle, up until his death from the pneumonia he contracted while recovering from wounds received from friendly fire during the Battle of Chancellorsville. When news reached Lee that Jackson's arm had been amputated, Lee mourned, "He has lost his left arm; but I have lost my right.” As part of his extensive research, Lang visited the VMI Museum and was shown Jackson's bullet-pierced raincoat by curator Keith Gibson.

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