- September 26, 2018
Filmmaker Ross McElwee takes his camera on a journey into the American South, following in the footsteps of William Sherman, the Union Army general who marched his army south from Atlanta to Savannah during the American Civil War, leaving a trail of destruction in his wake. But just before starting to shoot the film, McElwee’s girlfriend ends their relationship. Under pressure from his sister and his parents, McElwee shifts his focus to the different goal of finding a “nice Southern girl.”
While still occasionally sharing information about the adventures and misadventures of General Sherman, time and again McElwee’s lens strays off to the strikingly attractive, independently minded, and intelligent women who cross his path. More than anything else, however, their attention feeds McElwee’s own self-doubt; contact with women strikes a level of anxiety into him that’s equaled only by the threat of nuclear war, another of his fixations.
All the while, McElwee’s apparently aimless exploration of the South delivers insights into his complex relationship with his native soil—a dynamic he compares with that of Sherman, whose love for the southern states did nothing to prevent him being deeply hated there.