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A review of Glory
Glory captures the heroism of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw and
the first black regiment in the Civil War, the Massachusetts
"Fighting" Fifty-fourth. An extremely talented cast and crew
earned three Academy Awards (cinematography, sound and supporting
actor) and five nominations for their work in Glory. The
outstanding cinematography, sound, score and acting recreate the
events leading up to the Union attack on Fort Wagner on July 18th
Matthew Broderick portrays the young Bostonian abolitionist
Col. Robert G. Shaw who takes command of the Fifty-fourth,
following the Emancipation Proclamation. Shaw along with Cabot
Forbes (Cary Elwes) leads a band of ex slaves, servants and other
black volunteers including a rebellious runaway slave Trip
(Denzel Washington), Shaw\'s educated childhood friend Thomas
Searles (Andre Braugher), and a former grave digger Rawlins
(Morgan Freeman). Together these men face the adversity of a
racist Union Army, struggling to prove themselves worthy of their
government issued blue uniforms.
After months of training and exploitation for physical
labor, the Fifty-fourth gains the opportunity to fight in an
attack on Fort Wagner on the beaches of South Carolina. Poised
to dispel the belief that blacks would not be disciplined under
fire, the Fifty-fourth leads the almost suicidal attack on Ft.
Wagner. There Col. Shaw valiantly falls and the Fifty-fourth,
suffering great losses, displayed the courage that persuaded the
Union to enlist many more black soldiers.
Matthew Broderick delivers a noteworthy performance in the
role of Col. Shaw, which Leonard Maltin calls his most ambitious
part. In an interview for the New York Times, Broderick spoke of
his method acting,
"The first step [in preparing for the role of Robert Gould
Shaw in Glory] was to try to learn as much as I could about the
real person. That was mostly from letters, photographs,
descriptions and a poem by Emerson. The thing I had to do was
bring myself into that situation. I didn\'t want to be an
imitation of what I thought Shaw must have been like."
Broderick\'s acting talent has been noted on Broadway as well as
in films. Broderick won a Tony Award for his performance in
"Brighton Beach Memoirs" in 1983, a year after his film debut in
Max Dugan Returns. (Maltin, 102) But it was his role as a
computer hacker in War Games and his role as a handsome young
teen touring Chicago in Ferris Bueller\'s Day Off that alerted
moviegoers to his talent.
Denzel Washington has received critical acclaim for his role
as Trip (as well as an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor).
Denzel commented on the role of Trip in an interview with the New
"Trip\'s an instigator - wild, rebellious, angry. He\'s a
product of racism who\'s become a racist. He hates all white
people, Confederates most of all. But in the end, when he sees
the white officers make the maximum sacrifice, he\'s the most
patriotic one in the bunch."
Director of Glory, Edward Zwick described Washington by stating,
"Whatever that mysterious chemical process is that makes the
camera love someone, he has more of it than any one person
should."(Maltin, 921) It is that presence that earned him an
Oscar for Glory and nominations for his roles in Cry Freedom and
Equally as important as acting to the impact of the movie
Glory is the Musical score composed by James Horner. In the
final battle scene in Glory, Horner chose the Boys Choir of
Harlem which creates a moving effect during the death of Col.
Robert Shaw.(Magill, 158) Horner won a Grammy Award for the
score for Glory. He was nominated the same year for an Academy
Award for the score for Field of Dreams. Horner\'s previous
Grammy Awards include song of the year and best song written for
a motion picture or television, all for "Somewhere Out There"
from An American Tale in 1987. (CTFT, 228) Leonard Maltin calls
Horner one of today\'s most prolific film composer\'s. Horner
composed thirty one motion picture scores from 1979 to 1989.
There are many elements that contribute to the success of a
film. Glory combines the best cinematography, sound, score, and
acting to create a moving representation of this portion of U. S.
history. Roger Ebert called it a "strong and valuable film."
In his review written for the Chicago Sun-Times, Ebert notes the
amount of effort devoted to accurate period detail.
One of Ebert\'s criticisms of Glory is that the perspective
of the movie is constantly seen from one view, that of the white
officer. Ebert points out that a white man is cast as the lead
role when the movie is essentially about a black
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African Americans in the Civil War, Films, Glory, Robert Gould Shaw, Matthew Broderick, Fort Wagner, Cary Elwes, Broderick, Robert John Simmons, 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment
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