Glory! A DVD Review
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Glory - 1989
Glory is one of the best movies I have ever seen and surely the finest Civil War movie ever. I watched Glory last month and was incredibly moved by it. I felt quite shaken by it for several days after watching it. The film is based on the letters of Boston-born Union commander Colonel Robert Gould Shaw (Matthew Broderick), and on the books: Lay this Laurel, by Lincoln Kirstein and One Gallant Rush by Peter Burchard. The soundtrack, featuring the Harlem Boys' Choir is hauntingly beautiful. The cinematography is fabulous. The battle scenes are wrenching and exceptionally well done. They make it abundantly clear that one of the most horrific things about the Civil War was the fact that technology had outpaced tactics. Long range muskets made "full frontal assault" - a previous staple of ground fighting - both obsolete and suicidal.
Glory won an Academy Award for its intelligent and moving treatment of the true story of first group of African-Americans allowed to serve in combat during the Civil War. The cast is incredible. Denzel Washington won an Oscar for his performance. Morgan Freeman is, as always, steady, mature, dependable and admirable. Matthew Broderick turns in a subtle coming-of-age performance as the achingly young, idealistic officer who transforms a group of men never expected to do more than manual labor into a heroic fighting force that played a crucial part in helping the North win the Civil War.
After I watched the film, I was disappointed to find that the DVD I had watched did not have any bonus features. I checked recently and found that there was a bonus feature disc available from NetFlix, so I ordered it and discovered that it contained not only bonus features, but also the complete movie. I recommend that if you order Glory from NetFlix, you just go ahead and order the bonus features disc. There is really no need to order the movie disc at all since the movie is included with the special features.
I always love to watch the bonus features and listen to director's commentary if it is available. This is particularly true in a film directed by Edward Zwick because he is so skilled at following the film closely and discussing minute details of the sets, locations, music, history and other fascinating tidbits along with pertinent, interesting anecdotes. He is also an incredibly fine director and very good at talking about directing technique. For example, he describes how he got the astonishingly moving performance from Denzel Washington in the flogging scene which probably garnered Washington the Oscar. Rather than pushing for the performance, after several takes in which Denzel Washington played the scene extremely tough, Zwick moved the camera away, shooting with a telephoto lens. He instructed the flogger to keep flogging until he called "Cut". (The whip was designed to sting, not hurt.) The incredible play of expression we see is Denzel Washington actually reaching the point of losing control under the situation! Zwick is known for taking chances like this with his actors to push them to the best possible performance.
Glory is a film that I will surely add to my own collection. I know that I will long to see it in the future and will want to have it on my own shelf ready to watch. This film is beautiful, exciting, moving, fascinating, historically accurate and educational. I give it 5+ Stars!
How would you rate Glory?
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THANKS for reading! :)
I hope you will remember to RATE/LIKE/TWEET this HUB, participate in the poll and make a comment!
This review was originally part of a larger collection of reviews posted in early November of 2010. I have decided to break them into individual reviews for ease of reading. Here are the original comments:
I've seen Glory several times and own it on DVD. It is one of the best films ever made. I was only 18 when I saw it in the theater, and didn't get nearly as much out of it as later viewings as an adult.
Matthew Broderick's portrayal of Robert Gould Shaw is so delicate, with the character walking the line between man and boy, intellectual and military man, follower and leader. Shaw was only 25 years old when he was placed in charge of the 55th battalion, and Broderick's boyish looks make the viewer all the more aware of the great responsibility that were placed on such young shoulders.
I have had both of my high school age children watch Glory when they were studying the Civil War in class. This depiction is so accurate and well rendered that it helped them feel more connected to the topics they were studying. The bonus features were very helpful for school purposes, too.
Many thanks for your thoughtful comment! Yes, I think every high school history class should definitely watch Glory. It really makes the Civil War come alive. In the director's commentary, Edward Zwick mentions how much he appreciates the positive feedback he has received from teachers and how highly this movie has come to be regarded as a teaching tool.
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