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David BruceIt is hard to identify with the general's daughter, Elisabeth, because of her sexual extremes. However we all have suffered injustices, and rejection by those we most count on in life.
Review by David Bruce
THE GENERAL'S DAUGHTER
(1999)
This page was last updated May 17, 2005
Paul Brenner: John Travolta
Sarah Sunhill: Madeleine Stowe
Gen. Joe Campbell: James Cromwell
Capt. Elizabeth Campbell: Leslie Stefanson
Col. William Kent: Timothy Hutton
Col. Robert Moore: James Woods
Col. George Fowler: Clarence Williams III

Directed by Simon West. Written by William Goldman and Christopher Bertolini.
Based on the novel by Nelson DeMille.
Running time: 115 minutes.
Rated R (for graphic images relating to sexual violence including a strong rape scene, some perverse sexuality, nudity and language).
FOR SWEDISH TRANSLATION -CLICK HERE

General Cambells dotter, Elisabeth, var Fort MacCallums stolthet - vacker, smart och en duktig officer. När hon hittas bunden och dödad, mitt på ett träningsfält, fruktar myndigheterna det värsta och kallar på Paul Brennen och Sara Sunhill för att de ska lösa det brutala och mystiska mordet.
---Bibel Sajten

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You, God—don't put off my rescue! Hurry and help me!   Don't let them cut my throat; don't let those mongrels devour me.  If you don't show up soon, I'm done for—gored by the bulls, meat for the lions. -from Psalm 22
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Now packs of wild dogs come at me; thugs gang up on me. They pin me down hand and foot, and lock me in a cage—a bag of bones in a cage, stared at by every passerby. They take my wallet and the shirt off my back, and then throw dice for my clothes.
-Psalm 22: 16-18.
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God, God . . . my God! Why did you dump me miles from nowhere?   Doubled up with pain, I call to God all the day long. No answer. Nothing. I keep at it all night, tossing and turning. And you! Are you indifferent, above it all. -Psalm 22:1-3.
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     It is hard to identify with the general's daughter, Elisabeth, because of her sexual extremes. However we all have suffered injustices, and rejection by those we most count on in life. At certain points we can all relate to her situation. Hence, she mirrors some of are own pain.

     Additionally Elisabeth's experience, in some ways, mirrors the gospel account of Jesus Christ. Her rejection, torture and rape, for example, mirror Isaiah 53:3: "He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with bitterest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way when he went by. He was despised, and we did not care."

Elisabeth embodies the sexual and sexists sins of the military. And her torture for these sins is a reflection of the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53:4-6, "Yet it was our weaknesses he (she) carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him (her) down. And we thought his (her) troubles were a punishment from God for his (her) own sins! But he (she) was wounded and crushed for our sins. He (she) was beaten that we might have peace. He (she) was whipped, and we were healed! All of us have strayed away like sheep. We have left God's paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him (her) the guilt and sins of us all."

     There are differences, of course. Elisabeth's torture through beatings and whippings did not bring the healing and peace she sought. Her attempt at messiahship, to redeem and save herself, failed. Her journey to wholeness ended in death with no hope of resurrection. Interestingly however, her death did bring justice by calling attention to the crime against her.

"But the Lord said, 'What have you done? Listen—your brother's (/Elisabeth's) blood cries out to me from the ground!'" -Genesis 4:10

A MESSAGE OF HOPE:
Ephes. 2:3-6 -Message Translation
We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It's a wonder God didn't lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us!  Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah.

A PSALM OF REJECTION
David, the greatest king of Israel, felt rejected by God at times. Here is a song he wrote to give voice those deep feelings of abandonment. Jesus quoted this song as he was dying on the cross in a state of rejection.

Psalm 22 (in part)
A David psalm

from the Message Translation of the Bible

God, God . . . my God!
Why did you dump me miles from nowhere?
Doubled up with pain, I call to God
all the day long. No answer. Nothing.
I keep at it all night, tossing and turning.

And you! Are you indifferent, above it all,
leaning back on the cushions of Israel's praise?
We know you were there for our parents:
they cried for your help and you gave it;
they trusted and lived a good life.

And here I am, a nothing -an earthworm,
something to step on, to squash.
Everyone pokes fun at me;
they make faces at me, they shake their heads:
"Let's see how God handles this one;
since God likes him so much, let him help him!"

And to think you were midwife at my birth,
setting me at my mother's breasts!
When I left the womb you cradled me;
since the moment of birth you've been my God.
Then you moved far away
and trouble moved in next-door.
I need a neighbor.

Herds of bulls come at me,
the raging bulls stampede,
Horns lowered, nostrils flaring,
like a herd of buffalo on the move.

I'm a bucket kicked over and spilled,
every joint in my body has been pulled apart.
My heart is a blob
of melted wax in my gut.
I'm dry as a bone,
my tongue black and swollen.
They have laid me out for burial
in the dirt.

Now packs of wild dogs come at me;
thugs gang up on me.
They pin me down hand and foot,
and lock me in a cage -a bag
Of bones in a cage, stared at
by every passerby.
They take my wallet and the shirt off my back,
and then throw dice for my clothes.

You, God—don't put off my rescue!
Hurry and help me!
Don't let them cut my throat;
don't let those mongrels devour me.
If you don't show up soon,
I'm done for -gored by the bulls,
meat for the lions.

WRITER
NELSON DeMILLE
Exploited Women in the Military.

     Nelson DeMille who had served in the Army from 1966 to 1969 during the Vietnam War when the numbers of women serving were relatively low, and few, if any, women were commanding officers was fascinated by the influx of women into the military in subsequent years. He wanted to explore this new world, and researched the topic in earnest.

     "The genesis of the book was not a specific topic," says DeMille. "The approach was more 'let's look at women in the military.' When I was in the military, female officers were nurses, others who were not officers were typists or performed other duties in hospitals. But when I began doing my research, certain issues concerning sexism were coming to light. I found that the military changed in a lot of ways, but the more it changed the more it stayed the same. The culture, the milieu has not really changed at all.

     "But this story is also a murder mystery, a psychological thriller," DeMille is quick to point out. "Everyone's seen a murder mystery set in the civilian world, but not everyone knows how things go during a military investigation. Defendants, possible suspects don't have the same rights as a civilian. There is no Fifth Amendment. Loyalty, duty, honor and discipline are a very important part of military justice. The Army is like an extended family and from day one you take an oath of allegiance, not only to your country, but also to the military. The counterpoint between how the military behave and how the civilian world behaves is growing wider and I think that's what makes for fascinating drama."

    
VISITOR COMMENTS

DEPRESSING
Date: Sat, 16 Sep 2000
From: Roz

I think The General's Daughter was one of the most depressing movies I've ever seen. While the movie moved at a good pace and was an interesting storyline, I believe the filmmaking defeated the point the movie was storyline was attemping to make. In particular, the gratuitous nude images of the general's daughter's body during both the original rape at West Point and during her murder on the Georgia army base were uncalled for. The film is about betrayal and coverup of a brutal gang rape of a woman, but the way the film displayed shots of the victim was more like soft porn displaying a beautiful body. It's amazing that her face was all beat up and dirty during the rape, yet her beautiful body was nice and clean and didn't show any scars or dirt. The chances of that happening during a gang rape out in the middle of of a dirty army training field is impossible. Not only that, she was displayed over and over again with emphasis on her breasts and body position. Totally, degrading soft porn. It did not take any of that to make the point of the storyline and work through the whodunnit part of the film (in which the revelation of the murderer ended up being lackluster and a totally confusing motive.) The makers of this film did not show rape as the repulsively, violent, sick, degrading crime that it is...they glamorized it! I bet the rapists and necrophiliacs in the audience could hardly contain their glee at a movie that catered to them.
Roz
Do NOT print my email address

BUT WHY THE NUDITY
Date: Mon, 17 Apr 2000
From: Susan Foulkes

I would like to thank you for and take this opportunity to express my feelings about the movie, "The General's Daughter". As far as the movies plot, I have nothing further to add. I think your review and those posted by other readers of your site have left nothing of the nature of the tale left unsaid. There is however, another more sinister plot at work here. Some of your reviewers touched upon it but I feel it needs further exploration. It is the use of unnecessary and gratuitous nude body shots throughout the film. While I am not naive to what sells a movie and I understand the financial investment needed to launch such a film, I still found myself morally repulsed at the way in which this movie utilized the female body to tell its tale. I am aware that in a film about rape I will probably have to sit through uncomfortable shots of a violent and brutal act, which by the way I often find unnecessary since I have an imagination that works. BUT not only did the director choose to show us this scene over and over and over again, he also attempted to capture the actresses body in such ways as to show off the beauty of her form, much as the same way as directors of soft core pornography. Film is a powerful medium. Stories about this subject matter are also powerful and important. The impact of any attempt to try and beautify any aspect of a brutal gang rape and then present it full force upon the general public cannot be known. I feel this film offers us a disturbing view of not only the directors mind but the machine called Hollywood. If you want to use sex to sell a movie, then I feel you must act somewhat responsibly and so does everyone else, that is why we have movie rating systems. By using the guise of being necessary to the story, the people responsible allowed angle after angle and shot after shot of this beautiful young woman's body into their film. How many times do you need to see this woman's breasts and from how many angles before you grasp, as the audience, that she is in fact naked. Who are these extra shots for? What type of minds are they meant to attract? What age group, I wonder? What sex? These are serious questions when young people often learn more from the movies and television than they do from real people. People who would know that rape can NEVER be beautiful. People that may be able to teach compassion and understanding and truth. Hollywood has definitely show us it's dark side this time! Something needed to be said.
Thank You Susan Foulkes

SPECIFIC, GRAPHIC, UNCOMFORTABLE DETAILS
August 16, 1999. First note, love the website. I've book-marked it and will visit it often! I found the General's Daughter offensive on a lot of levels. Overall, the film was very uneven and heavy-handed. Sublty is a lost art in Hollywood. The movie was uncomfortable to watch and Travolta's character shifted from a take-no-prisoners investigator to a jokester, then back again. However, the most offensive part for me was at the end. Throughout the film you are given details as to the daughter's death.   Specific, graphic, uncomfortable details. So, you're imagination has put these pieces of the puzzle together to make a most gruesome death (and sad, empty life). Yet, when you find out who the killer is, they flashback and show her being killed! Why? It was gratuitous and completely unnecessary. I thought the point of the film was to uncover how she died and who killed her. We find out how she died during the investigation, so, when they uncovered the murderer, why show it all over again? Whatever parts of the film I enjoyed drained out of me at that point. Pete Bauer

DOWN ON GENERAL'S DAUGHTER
UP ON RUNAWAY BRIDE

August 4, 1999. As a 51 yr. old minister whose wife likes to go the movies, this was another film I could have done without. I'm afraid many of us live a bit too close to the pagans. I wished I hadn't gone. The psychological thriller part was strong, but once again I think it I've been to a place that God would like for me to have avoided.
      The full frontal nudity of the daughter was not fully necessary, for the thriller to work, but never the less, it probably helped their sales. It is sad when language taking the Lord's name in vain has become so common, nudity expected, and sex without marriage portrayed so amorally in almost every movie. Many good reasons not to go to this one, no good ones that I can think of. The Runaway Bride is proving that the language, sex innuendo (much lighter here than usual), gratuitous romps in bed between the unmarried, and nudity are not necessary to pack the house. It was like a great fifties film. More about character and getting to know your characters than special effects, car crashes, killing, or sexual material. Let's Hollywood learned a lesson here.
God bless.

CHANGED MIND ABOUT GENERAL'S DAUGHTER
I think this site is great! I heard you talking about it on WAY FM 88.7 here in Nashville, TN. I have to admit I wanted to see The General's Daughter. I am a Christian no less! After reading your review I have definitely changed my mind. Praise God! Keep up the good work. Love in Christ, Jennifer.
My response: Thanks for the kind words.

THOUGHT PROVOKING
July 15,1999. I recently saw and enjoyed this movie very much. While the characters were somewhat wooden and the bad guys were two dimensional, I found it thought-provoking and interesting. I know little about how things are in the military so the process of the investigation was at times surprising to me, at other times infuriating.
     I really liked your review. I have seen many sites on the web and I tend to lump all the extremists together, whether they are rabid anti-Semitic, over the top Christian, or hard-core porn fans. I think your site is a refreshing breath of fresh air. A reasoned and reasonable site for people to share their views, no matter what the topic or what the opinion. This is what the net is all about. Good luck, and I will be back.
I love the movies.
Marty


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