18 July 2004 | dr-28
Splendid anti-war film set during the Civil War.
This is a wonderful psychological study of a Civil War draft resister who simply does not want to kill anybody. Ashby Gatrell leaves his family, whom he dearly loves, and spends the Civil War hiding in a cave, and living off the land. The film is also a psychological study of the effects of loneliness and fear on a person. Ashby becomes close to nature, killing animals only to survive, and the film's few light moments deal with Ashby sharing food and living space with four footed rivals. The film's most fascinating moments are the ones without dialog which show Ashby during his day to day struggle to survive. It is also an acting tour de force for Martin Sheen, who is effectively the only character in the movie. Sheen brilliantly evokes Ashby's loneliness and depression, during the long years of the war, and at war's end equally brilliantly shows Gatrell's manic happiness that is only a step away from madness.