The Glory (A review of the 1989 movie "Glory")

Discussion in 'Reviews' started by Anduril, Apr 2, 2005.

  1. Anduril

    Anduril Flame of the West

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    The Most Ill-named Movie of the 80's... Or is it? ​

    Glory is Hollywood’s first attempt at telling the story of the 54th Massachusetts, the first black regiment in the United States army during the Civil War. The film follows the history fairly well, telling the story through much of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw’s letters to his parents. Dealing with prejudice from both North and South, Shaw trains the men into a disciplined, marching unit. The film concludes with the regiment’s defeat in attacking Fort Wagner, where they suffer over fifty percent casualties.

    Though the directing, cinematography, and editing in this film are all good, for me, the real power behind this film is the script, James Horner’s musical score, and the acting. Colonel Shaw is portrayed by Matthew Broderick where he gives the most impressive performance of his career, which is surprising since Broderick is more accustomed to playing passive characters. Cary Elwes and Morgan Freeman are both convincing in their roles. And as for Denzel Washington, let me just say he certainly deserved the oscar he won for best supporting actor. If nothing else, the acting in this film is second to none.

    Though this is a war film, the emphasis is less on battles and more on the regiment. The film mainly tells the story of Colonel Shaw and the regiment through a lot of character development. For the most part, the film handles this wonderfully. The relationships between the characters are tied up beautifully towards the end with the exception of Elwe’s character. After being built up through the film and going through all the interesting talks with Shaw, it feels like his story was cut short.

    Though this film has none of the innuendoes or crude banter that is all too common in war films today, it does carry some baggage of harsh language mostly from an Irish drill sergeant and graphic violence in the battle scenes, not to mention a prolonged whipping scene which will cause a few viewers to squirm in their seats.

    It is easy to label this film as an “anti-prejudice film”, but I think that there is a more profound meaning to the message. Many people will feel the film ill-named when, after meeting such a devastating defeat, the regiment has the name “Glory” applied to its story. But that is why I love this movie. It makes the audience ponder if there is ever victory in defeat. Though it could be said their efforts did not help the war effort, we must ask, “Was their sacrifice truly fruitless?” What is the glory? In Morgan Freeman’s words, “...the glory is that they wanted to be there.”
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2005
  2. Mububban

    Mububban Administrator Staff Member

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    I first saw this movie years ago and loved it. It was probably one of the first war movies I saw that didn't glorify war and wasn't all Hollywood gung-ho crap. War sucks, the good guys die, bad thigns happen to good people etc. Just like real life.
    I enjoy movies like Glory, Black Hawk Down and We Were Soldiers much more than the usual Hollywood "summer blockbuster" rubbish. Glory is a great movie and well worth a watch on many levels.