Rewriting history to egregious ends, Field of Lost Shoes recounts the true-life saga of seven Virginia Military Institute cadets who in 1864 died in service to the Confederate Army during the Battle of New Market.
Awash in phony-looking facial hair and clichéd period drama, Sean McNamara’s drama defines those brave boys via their love of black people, their embrace of Jews, and their desire to fight so that they might protect their homeland from “foreign invaders,” uphold their “traditions,” and preserve their “future.” Save for a brief prologue, there isn’t a pro-slavery Southern man to be found in this fantasyland vision of the Civil War, only kind-hearted, open-minded progressives who want to be with their love-at-first-sight gals, or pursue sculpting careers, or liberate their oppressed African American brethren.
That counterfeit romantic portrait is contrasted with the contemptuous depiction of Ulysses S. Grant (Tom Skerritt) as a “butcher” and the Union as a bunch of child-murderers led by a goofily mustached David Arquette.
From the cadets risking their own hides to save that of bread-baking slave “Judge” (Keith David) to a powwow in which they share their hopes and dreams with commander John C. Breckinridge (Jason Isaacs), all the way to the late sight of a Jewish cadet reading from the New Testament (see, he’s really one of them!), the film stands as a pinnacle of revisionist bullshit.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 24, 2014