Gods and Generals extended director's cut in the Blu-ray format was released on May 24. This edition is 280 minutes; the original 2003 release was 219 minutes. CWL and a friend viewed the film on May 31 in a campus auditorium with Blue Ray projection and sound.
In the extra 61 minutes are is the long awaited Antietam scenes, some of which are very good. The Cornfield segments show nearly face to face volleys that explode corn cobs and cut corn stalks. But since none of the main characters are in Antietam combat scenes, these scenes seem extraneous to the film's narrative. The 20th Maine is shown readying itself for combat and then receiving the news that they won't be going into battle. There is no significant Jackson, Lee, Longstreet, or Hood presence in the Antietam scenes. Actually, Longstreet is rarely featured in the movie and probably not at all in the 61 additional minutes. One of the failures of the 2003 G&G was the neglect of the Lee/Longstreet relationship which was so important to the Gettysburg film.
Also in the 61 minutes are three scenes with John Wilkes Booth, two of which are with Harrison [the Confederate spy from Gettysburg]. The first scene is wretchedly directed and acted. Southern belles with lip gloss and plucked eyebrows oogle, drool, and flirt with Booth. They do not even hide behind hand fans. The second and third scenes with Booth are not much better Harrison the spy [from Gettysburg] in them. The third scene with them is set in a dressing room after a Shakespearean play. The dialog and acting is ripe for small screen television but comes across as silly on the big screen. Chamberlain and Fanny are in the audience and meet Booth backstage. It is a preposterous scene with Fanny quizzing Booth on political issues. After the Chamberlains excuse themselves . . . . Well, both Harrison and Booth may have gender issues. The women swoon for Booth; the guys too.
There are two extra scenes with African Americans. Both scenes include a new character who, like Jackson's cook, is a free man. This former slave, recently freed by the owner, now works for the owner who is now a member of the Confederate army. Of the three blacks in the film, two are freedmen and one is a slave living with her children in a white Fredericksburg household. No issues similar to those found in the film Glory are found in this version of Gods and Generals. It would not be a stretch to imagine neo-Confederates being extremely satisfied with G&G's depiction of slaves and slavery. CWL would have gladly watched Jackson conduct Sunday School lessons with black children. But G&G's depiction of blacks a being only loyal is superficial and probably misleading to a general audience.
Nothing significantly new is added the Chamberlain's character or Lee's character as presented in the 2003 version. In 2003, it was rumored that there was a Booth scene and a Jackson scene at John Brown's 1850 hanging. It is not in the extra 61 minutes. Neither is the Irish Brigade receiving boxwood stems from historical consultant Brian Pohanka which appeared among previous editions' deleted scenes. There are extra scenes of the Irish Brigade and other Federal soldiers fighting their way into and then looting Fredericksburg
An introduction by executive producer Ted Turner is included on the second disc along with the three making-of documentaries: "Journey to the Past," "The Life of Thomas 'Stonewall' Jackson," and "The Authenticites of the Film" and the two music videos from Bob Dylan and Mary Fahl which were released earlier on the 219 minute director's edition.