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Gods and Generals is the prequel to the 1994 film Gettysburg. The film focuses on Confederate General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, from the outbreak of The American Civil War until his death from friendly fire at Chancellorsville. It also features the back story for Colonel Joshua Chamberlain, who appeared in Gettysburg and is once again played by Jeff Daniels.
As of 2012, two versions of the film are available to the public: the 3.5 hour version that was released in theaters in 2003 and the 5+ hour Extended Director's Cut that was released to 2011. Opinion varies on which one is better, but general consensus sides with the latter.
- Anyone Can Die: Truth in Television.
- Backstory: To the characters who appear in Gettysburg but not the film's protagonist, Jackson, who dies.
- Billing Displacement: Jeff Daniels (Chamberlain) for the Theatrical Version; despite being the top-billed actor, Stephen Lang (Jackson) had far, far more screentime than him. In the director's cut, however, both characters get about an equal amount, and either one of them could be seen as the film's protagonist, so the trope is averted here.
- Boot Camp Episode: Part two of the Director's Cut (it's divided into 5 parts) laregly focuses on Chamberlain's basic training.
- California Doubling: Averted. The movie was filmed entirely on location in Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland.
- Chick Magnet: John Wilkes Booth in the Director's cut.
- Cultured Warrior: Chamberlain.
- Determinator: How Jackson gets his nickname.
- Epic Film
- A Father to His Men: Jackson
- Friend or Foe: How Jackson meets his end.
- Greek Chorus: John Wilkes Booth and Henry T. Harrison in the Director's Cut.
- Happily Married: Jackson and his wife, Chamberlain and his wife.
- Littlest Cancer Patient: Jackson's young friend Sara. She doesn't get better.
- Manly Tears: When little Sara dies, Jackson breaks down and weeps openly, not just for her, but for all the people he's seen die so far in the war; Sara simply happened to be the straw that broke the camel's back.
- Prequel: To Gettysburg
- Real Life Writes the Plot: Literally; it's based on actual events, so things like Jackson's death are inevitable.
- Real Men Love Jesus: Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson: devout Christian and genuine Four-Star Badass.
- Show Within a Show: The stage play scenes in the Director's Cut.
- Start of Darkness: John Wilkes Booth in the Director's Cut. At first, he simply hates Lincoln, as many in the South did. As the film progresses, however, he gradually begins indicating that he's toying with the idea of killing him personally.
- Villain with Good Publicity: Booth, insofar as he can be called a villain at this point in his life.
- War Is Hell: Applies to both versions, but this is more overt in the Director's Cut which included the Battle of Antietam, complete with some very grim shots of the aftermath.
- Worthy Opponent: Harrison views Chamberlain as this after the two meet. He decides that, if the Union army has such men in their ranks, then the Confederates will need all the help they can get, thus prompting him to take a hiatus from acting and become a spy.