Glory (1989) A Tale of the American Civil War

When I first watched Glory it made my Top 10. Many movies later and after having seen it for the second time, it doesn’t make the Top 10 anymore but it is still one of the very best war movies ever. I would even argue it’s flawless. The acting is superior, cinematography is beautiful, score is great, themes are interesting. I suppose it’s accurate as well. It’s a 5/5 movie but… for me to really like or rather love a movie it needs to have something more than perfection, something like complexity. I decidedly have no problem with Matthew Broderick but I’m not very familiar with him. Some people criticized this choice because they saw him in other movies and thought he was too young at the time.

The movie tells the story of the 54th all black Union regiment led by Col Robert Gould Shaw (Matthew Broderick). This is the first all black regiment ever. The whole regiment is composed of volunteers who are eager to join, train and eventually fight. It’s not easy to train these men, many of them are former slaves, runaways, analphabets and all in all an unwieldy bunch. Especially Private Trip (Denzel Washington) isn’t one who easily takes no for an answer. If Shaw wasn’t such a truly humane, kind and just leader and if he hadn’t the support of his friend Major Forbes and the ever so wise older soldier Rawlins (Morgan Freeman) maybe the whole enterprise would have been a failure. Luckily it isn’t or we wouldn’t have this highly watchable movie in which people can be seen how they overcome the worst adversity.

Shaw has to fight hard to earn recognition and justice for his men. They are lacking everything, shoes, uniforms, weapons and when finally they get their equipment and have undergone a successful training they lack the opportunity to show that they are worthy soldiers.

There are a lot of infuriating scenes in this movie, after all it deals with racism. Racism has many faces but at the end of the day, whatever face it has, it’s an ugly one.

It’s uplifting to see the suppressed overcome obstacles and all the more because it’s a true story. Glory is based on the letters of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw (you can find them here Blue-Eyed Child of Fortune: The Civil War Letters of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw)

I haven’t seen many Civil War movies, I think only three so far. While I had a hard time to follow Gettysburg, I thoroughly enjoyed this one but the one I prefer is Ride with the Devil.

How about you? Any preferences?

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7 thoughts on “Glory (1989) A Tale of the American Civil War

  1. warmoviebuff says:

    That is a fair review. I agree that for a movie searching for a mainstream audience, it is flawless. The acting, the plot, the music, the realism, the importance of the topic…

    You see the effects of peer pressure on Broderick’s performance. Noone could have expected him to hold his own in this cast, but he stepped it up big time and although he has the fifth best performance, he does a great job.

    The movie is fairly accurate. About a 7 on a scale of 1-10.

    What a fantastic musical score!

    • I think that the score tricked me into putting it on my Top 10. One of the reasons why Black Hawk Down is frimly rooted.
      Perfect! mainstream was the word I was hunting for, exactly nd I’m not so much into mainstream.
      It may be afair review but, unlike the movie, it isn’t flawless. I reaslized I left out the battle scenes and they are important and are part of the appeal. Might have to add something here, sooner or later.
      I haven seen Broderick in any other movie, I was more puzzled by the choice of Tobey Maguire in Ride with the Devil (Jewel didn’t bother me, she is a secondary character).

  2. warmoviebuff says:

    Your mention of Tobey McGuire is a good one. The casting of Daniels and McGuire are equivalent in head scratching. However, both turned out to be inspired choices.

    As to the battle scenes, the two of them are basically pay-offs for the drama. Both battle scenes are excellent but lacking in accuracy.

  3. Liam McAlister says:

    Gettysburg would have to be my fav., Gods & Generals was very enjoyable but I found it difficult to get my head around the same actor playing Pickett in one & Jackson in the other.

    • I had totally forgotten about Gods and Generals… I haven’t seen it yet. Thanks for remnding me.
      That’s something I find annoying, seeing an actor in similar movies play different characters, totally agree.

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