- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 2, 2001

KEEDYSVILLE, Md. Explosions, carnage and martyrdom were all in the script, but one thing the makers of the Civil War film "Gods and Generals" did not expect: a real war.
They were midway through a re-enactment of the blood-drenched Battle of Antietam on Sept. 11 when hijacked airliners slammed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the Pennsylvania countryside, killing thousands of Americans.
As the horror mounted and President Bush declared war on terrorism, director Ronald F. Maxwell urged his cast and crew to soldier on. They have, but things have changed.
Military planes now patrol the skies over the rock-strewn farmland, an hourlong drive from Washington, where the movie is being shot.
A giant U.S. flag hangs inside the catering tent, and actors in Union blue wave an 1861 version outside.
The $50 million Ted Turner Pictures production, meant to show the shattering effects of the war's early years, has become a mirror for the fears and passions aroused by the acts of terror on Sept. 11.
Mr. Maxwell's refusal to suspend filming was an act of defiance against attackers who sought to "bring us to our knees," he said.
"I did say that perhaps we on this film could find some small solace in the fact that the film we're making now is about a generation of Americans who confronted enormous challenges and sacrificed enormously, and that my hope was that even though we felt grief and shock and rage, we could channel all that into our work," Mr. Maxwell said.
Stephen Lang, who stars as Confederate Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson, took the attack personally. A native New Yorker, he lost a friend and neighbor, bond trader George Morrell, when the World Trade Center fell.
Mr. Lang, maintaining his character's Virginia drawl between battle scenes, drew a parallel between the real-life tragedy and his film role.
"Jackson was of the opinion the black flag had to be raised no quarter to our homes and firesides. I'm from New York. My home and my fireside were violated," he said. "This concept of the black flag is particularly relevant right now."
The movie makers also hope their story of the War Between the States reinforces the sense of national unity so evident in recent weeks.
"As a result of the Civil War, our country became truly unified," said Marc Cohen, a Los Angeles lawyer and history buff working as an extra in the film. "It was another time, when all the people, North and South, had to mobilize, and there was a belief, top to bottom, in what they were doing."
Mr. Maxwell, who also directed the 1993 Civil War epic "Gettysburg," strove for realism by choosing filming locations on or near key Civil War sites. They include the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Va., and Harpers Ferry, W.Va., where militant abolitionist John Brown was captured and executed after attacking a U.S. arsenal there in 1859.
The film depicts three battles in Virginia at Manassas, Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville as well as the Maryland clash at Antietam, also known as the Battle of Sharpsburg, all fought before the decisive confrontation at Gettysburg, Pa., in 1863.

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