Glory (1989 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Edward Zwick|
|Produced by||Freddie Fields|
|Screenplay by||Kevin Jarre|
|Based on||Lay This Laurel 1973 novel|
by Lincoln Kirstein
One Gallant Rush 1965 novel
by Peter Burchard
|Music by||James Horner|
|Edited by||Steven Rosenblum|
Freddie Fields Productions
|Distributed by||TriStar Pictures|
|Box office||$27 million|
Glory is a 1989 American historical war drama film directed by Edward Zwick about the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, the Union Army's first African-American regiment in the American Civil War. It stars Matthew Broderick as Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, the regiment's commanding officer, and Denzel Washington, Cary Elwes, and Morgan Freeman as fictional members of the 54th. The screenplay by Kevin Jarre was based on the books Lay This Laurel (1973) by Lincoln Kirstein and One Gallant Rush (1965) by Peter Burchard, and the personal letters of Shaw. The film depicts the soldiers of the 54th from the formation of their regiment to their heroic actions at the Second Battle of Fort Wagner on July 18, 1863.
Glory was co-produced by TriStar Pictures and Freddie Fields Productions, and distributed by Tri-Star Pictures in the United States. It premiered in limited release in the United States on December 14, 1989, and in wide release on February 16, 1990, making $27 million worldwide on an $18 million budget. The soundtrack, composed by James Horner and performed in part by Boys Choir of Harlem, was released on January 23, 1990. The home video was distributed by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. On June 2, 2009, a widescreen Blu-ray version, featuring the director's commentary and deleted scenes, was released.
The film was nominated for five Academy Awards and won three, including Best Supporting Actor for Washington. It won many other awards from, among others, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, the Golden Globe Awards, the Kansas City Film Critics Circle, the Political Film Society, and the NAACP Image Awards.
During the American Civil War, Captain Robert Shaw, injured at Antietam, is sent home to Boston on medical leave. Shaw accepts a promotion to colonel commanding the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, one of the first all-black regiments in the Union Army. He asks his friend Cabot Forbes to serve as his second in command, with the rank of major. Their first volunteer is another friend, Thomas Searles, a bookish, free African-American. Other recruits include John Rawlins, Jupiter Sharts, Silas Trip, and a mute teenage drummer boy.
The men learn that, in response to the Emancipation Proclamation, the Confederacy has issued an order that all black soldiers will be returned to slavery. Black soldiers found in a Union uniform will be executed as well as their white officers. They are offered but turn down a chance to take an honorable discharge. They undergo rigorous training from Sergeant-Major Mulcahy, who is particularly hard on Searles. Despite Mulcahy's treatment of his friend, Shaw reluctantly realizes the tough discipline is needed to prepare them for the coming challenges the regiment must face.
Trip goes AWOL and is caught; Shaw orders him flogged in front of the regiment. He then learns that Trip left to find shoes because his men are being denied these supplies. Shaw confronts the base's racist quartermaster on their behalf. Shaw also supports his men in a pay dispute; the Federal government decrees that black soldiers will only be paid $10, not the $13 per month all white soldiers receive. When the men, led by Trip, begin tearing up their pay vouchers in protest of this unequal treatment, Shaw tears up his own voucher in support of his men. In recognition of his regimental leadership, Rawlins is promoted by Shaw to the rank of sergeant major.
Once the 54th completes its training, they are transferred under the command of Brigadier General Charles Harker. On the way to South Carolina they are ordered by Colonel James Montgomery to sack and burn Darien, Georgia. Shaw initially refuses to obey an unlawful order but reluctantly agrees under threat of having his command taken away. He continues to lobby his superiors to allow his regiment to join the fight, as their duties to date have involved mostly manual labor. Shaw finally gets the 54th a combat assignment after he blackmails Harker by threatening to report the illegal activities he has discovered. In their first battle at James Island, South Carolina, the 54th successfully defeats a Confederate attack that had routed other units. During the battle, Searles is wounded but saves Trip. Shaw offers Trip the honor of bearing the regimental flag in battle. He declines, not sure that the war will result in a better life for ex-slaves like himself.
General George Strong informs Shaw of a major campaign to secure a foothold at Charleston Harbor. This involves assaulting Morris Island and capturing Fort Wagner, whose only landward approach is a strip of open beach; a charge is certain to result in heavy casualties. Shaw volunteers the 54th to lead the attack. The night before the battle, the black soldiers conduct a religious service. Several make emotional speeches to inspire others, including Trip, who finally embraces his fellow soldiers. On their way to the battlefield, the 54th is cheered by the same Union troops who had scorned them earlier.
The 54th leads the charge on the fort, suffering serious losses. As night falls, the regiment is pinned down against the walls of the fort. Attempting to encourage his men forward, Shaw is killed by numerous gunshots. Trip, despite his previous assertion that he would not do it, lifts the flag to rally the soldiers to continue, but he too is soon shot dead. Forbes and Rawlins take charge, and the soldiers break through the fort's defenses. Seemingly on the brink of victory, Forbes, Rawlins, Searles, Sharts, and the two color sergeants are fired upon by Confederate artillery. The morning after the battle, the beach is littered with the bodies of black and white Union soldiers; the Confederate flag is raised over the fort. The dead Union soldiers are buried in a mass communal grave, with Shaw and Trip's bodies next to each other.
Closing text reveals (incorrectly, the Confederates ran off seven weeks later) that Fort Wagner never fell to the Union Army. However, the courage demonstrated by the 54th resulted in the United States accepting thousands of black men for combat, and President Abraham Lincoln credited them with helping to turn the tide of the war.
- Matthew Broderick as Colonel Robert Gould Shaw
- Denzel Washington as Private Trip
- Cary Elwes as Major Cabot Forbes
- Morgan Freeman as Sergeant Major John Rawlins
- Andre Braugher as Corporal Thomas Searles
- Jihmi Kennedy as Private Jupiter Sharts
- Cliff DeYoung as Colonel James Montgomery
- Alan North as Governor John Albion Andrew
- John Finn as Sergeant Major Mulcahy
- RonReaco Lee as Mute Drummer Boy
- Donovan Leitch as Captain Charles Fessenden Morse
- Bob Gunton as General Charles Garrison Harker
- Jay O. Sanders as General George Crockett Strong
- Raymond St. Jacques as Frederick Douglass
- Richard Riehle as Quartermaster
- JD Cullum as Henry Sturgis Russell
- Christian Baskous as Edward L. Pierce
- Peter Michael Goetz as Francis Shaw
- Jane Alexander as Sarah Blake Sturgis Shaw (uncredited)
Kevin Jarre's inspiration for writing the film came from viewing the monument to Colonel Shaw and the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry in Boston Common. The 54th was the first formal unit of the Union Army to be made up entirely of African-American enlisted men; all of the officers were white men. His screenplay was based on two books, Lincoln Kirstein's Lay This Laurel (1973) and Peter Burchard's One Gallant Rush (1965), and the personal letters of Robert Gould Shaw.
Exterior filming took place primarily in Massachusetts and Georgia. Opening passages, meant to portray the Battle of Antietam, show volunteer military reenactors filmed at a major engagement at the Gettysburg battlefield. Zwick did not want to turn Glory "into a black story with a more commercially convenient white hero". Actor Morgan Freeman noted: "We didn't want this film to fall under that shadow. This is a picture about the 54th Regiment, not Colonel Shaw, but at the same time the two are inseparable". Zwick hired the writer Shelby Foote as a technical adviser, who later became widely known for his contributions to Ken Burns' PBS nine-episode documentary, The Civil War (1990).
Glory was the first major motion picture to tell the story of black U.S. soldiers fighting for their freedom from slavery during the Civil War. The 1965 James Stewart film Shenandoah also depicted black soldiers fighting for the Union, but the script suggested the Union army at that time was integrated.
On February 16, 1989, the body of a middle-aged man was discovered on the film's set in Savannah, about a day after his death. Described as having a Middle Eastern appearance, with no apparent signs of suffering a violent death, he was never positively identified. 
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Glory contains the following inaccuracies:
- The film implies that most of the soldiers in the 54th regiment were former slaves, when in fact a majority had been born free men in the North.
- The regiment was not formed until early 1863, so they were not in camp for Christmas of 1862, and on the day the recruits arrived at Readville, they were given uniforms and new boots so soldiers were never reduced to marching barefoot in cold mud, as the film depicts.
- While Glory shows Shaw volunteering his unit immediately after hearing General George Strong describe Fort Wagner's defenses, the regimental commanders had previously conferred among themselves before going back to Gen. Strong and telling him that the 54th was to make the assault. Before the attack, it was, in fact, General Strong who asked who would pick up the flag and carry on if the color bearer was killed; it was Col. Shaw who responded that he would. Strong was shot in the attack and later died of his wounds.
- The 54th are shown attacking Fort Wagner from north to south with the ocean on their left. The actual attack occurred from the opposite direction, with the ocean on their right, parallel to the regiment.
- Despite the film's closing statement that the Confederate fort was never taken by Union forces, it was finally occupied by the Union in September 1863 after the fort was abandoned. The Confederate forces feared they could not hold the fort if the Union were to attack.
- The film depicts the soldier played by actor Denzel Washington being flogged as a punishment for running from camp. Flogging had been abolished by the U.S. Army in 1861, almost two years before the 54th Massachusetts Infantry was formed.
- The historical Charles Garrison Harker never served around Charleston and never reached the rank of Major General. His war service was on the Western Theater, and he was younger than portrayed in the movie as he was in reality the same age as Colonel Shaw.
|Glory: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack|
|Film score by|
|Released||November 1, 1990|
Glory's original motion picture soundtrack was released by Virgin Records on January 11, 1990. The score for the film was composed and orchestrated by James Horner in association with the Boys Choir of Harlem. Jim Henrikson edited the film's music, while Shawn Murphy mixed the score.
A nonfiction study of the regiment first appeared in 1965 and was republished in paperback in January 1990 by St. Martin's Press under the title One Gallant Rush: Robert Gould Shaw and His Brave Black Regiment. The book expands on how the 54th Massachusetts developed as battle-ready soldiers. Summarizing the historical events, the book provides events surrounding the aftermath of the first Black Union regiment and how it influenced the outcome of the war.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 93%, based on 44 reviews, with an average rating of 7.88/10. The site's consensus states: "Bolstered by exceptional cinematography, powerful storytelling, and an Oscar-winning performance by Denzel Washington, Glory remains one of the finest Civil War movies ever made."
Film critic Vincent Canby's review in The New York Times stated, "[Broderick] gives his most mature and controlled performance to date...[Washington is] an actor clearly on his way to a major screen career...The movie unfolds in a succession of often brilliantly realized vignettes tracing the 54th's organization, training and first experiences below the Mason-Dixon line. The characters' idiosyncrasies emerge". Roger Ebert from the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film three-and-a-half stars out of four, calling it "a strong and valuable film no matter whose eyes it is seen through". He believed the production design credited to Norman Garwood and the cinematography of Freddie Francis paid "enormous attention to period detail".
|"Watching "Glory," I had one recurring problem. I didn't understand why it had to be told so often from the point of view of the 54th's white commanding officer. Why did we see the black troops through his eyes — instead of seeing him through theirs? To put it another way, why does the top billing in this movie go to a white actor"?|
|—Roger Ebert, writing in the Chicago Sun-Times|
Peter Travers of Rolling Stone was not impressed at all with the overall acting, calling Broderick "catastrophically miscast as Shaw". Alternatively, Richard Schickel of Time described the picture by saying, "the movie's often awesome imagery and a bravely soaring choral score by James Horner that transfigure the reality, granting it the status of necessary myth". Desson Howe of The Washington Post, pointed out some flaws that included mentioning Broderick as "an amiable non-presence, creating unintentionally the notion that the 54th earned their stripes despite wimpy leadership".
James Berardinelli writing for ReelViews, called the film "without question, one of the best movies ever made about the American Civil War", noting that it "has important things to say, yet it does so without becoming pedantic". Rating the film four stars, critic Leonard Maltin wrote that it was "grand, moving, breathtakingly filmed (by veteran cinematographer Freddie Francis) and faultlessly performed", calling it "one of the finest historical dramas ever made".
Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune gave the film a thumbs up review, saying, "like Driving Miss Daisy, this is another admirable film that turns out to be surprisingly entertaining". He thought the film took on "some true social significance" and felt the actors portrayed the characters as "more than simply black men". He explained: "They're so different, that they become not merely standard Hollywood blacks, but true individuals".
American Civil War historian James M. McPherson stated the film "accomplished a remarkable feat in sensitizing a lot of today's black students to the role that their ancestors played in the Civil War in winning their own freedom".
|62nd Academy Awards||Best Actor in a Supporting Role||Denzel Washington||Won|
|Best Art Direction||Norman Garwood, Garrett Lewis||Nominated|
|Best Cinematography||Freddie Francis||Won|
|Best Film Editing||Steven Rosenblum||Nominated|
|Best Sound||Donald O. Mitchell, Gregg Rudloff, Elliot Tyson, Russell Williams II||Won|
|41st ACE Eddie Awards||Best Edited Feature Film||————||Won|
|44th British Academy Film Awards||Best Cinematography||Freddie Francis||Nominated|
|British Society of Cinematographers Awards 1990||Best Cinematography||Freddie Francis||Won|
|Casting Society of America Artios Awards 1990||Best Casting for Feature Film, Drama||Mary Colquhoun||Nominated|
|47th Golden Globe Awards||Best Motion Picture – Drama||Freddie Fields||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture||Denzel Washington||Won|
|Best Director||Edward Zwick||Nominated|
|Best Screenplay||Kevin Jarre||Nominated|
|Best Original Score||James Horner||Nominated|
|33rd Grammy Awards||Best Instrumental Composition Written for a Motion Picture or for Television||James Horner||Won|
|Kansas City Film Critics Circle Awards 1989||Best Film||————||Won|
|Best Director||Edward Zwick||Won|
|Best Supporting Actor||Denzel Washington||Won|
|NAACP Image Awards 1992||Outstanding Motion Picture||————||Won|
|Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture||Denzel Washington||Won|
|1989 National Board of Review of Motion Pictures Awards||Best Picture||————||Nominated|
|1989 New York Film Critics Circle Awards||Best Supporting Actor||Denzel Washington||Nominated|
|1990 Political Film Society Awards||Human Rights||————||Nominated|
|Writers Guild of America Awards 1989||Best Adapted Screenplay||Kevin Jarre||Nominated|
American Film Institute Lists
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies - Nominated
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Thrills - Nominated
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes and Villains:
- Trip - Nominated Hero
- AFI's 100 Years of Film Scores - Nominated
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers - #31
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) - Nominated
The film premiered in cinemas on December 14, 1989, in limited release within the US. During its limited opening weekend, the film grossed $63,661 in business showing at three locations. Its official wide release began in theaters on February 16, 1990. Opening in a distant eighth place, the film earned $2,683,350 showing at 801 cinemas. The film Driving Miss Daisy soundly beat its competition during that weekend opening in first place with $9,834,744. The film's revenue dropped by 37% in its second week of release, earning $1,682,720. For that particular weekend, the film remained in 8th place screening in 809 theaters not challenging a top five position. The film Driving Miss Daisy, remained in first place grossing $6,107,836 in box office revenue. Glory went on to top out domestically at $26,828,365 in total ticket sales through a 17-week theatrical run. For 1989 as a whole, the film would cumulatively rank at a box office performance position of 45.
Following its release in theaters, the film was released on VHS video format on June 22, 1990. The Region 1 DVD widescreen edition of the film was released in the United States on January 20, 1998. Special DVD features include: interactive menus, scene selections, widescreen 1.85:1 color anamorphic format, along with subtitles in English, Italian, Spanish and French. A Special Edition DVD of the Film was released on January 30, 2001.
A special repackaged version of Glory was also officially released on DVD on January 2, 2007. It includes two discs featuring: widescreen and full screen versions of the film; Picture-in-Picture video commentary by director Ed Zwick and actors Morgan Freeman and Matthew Broderick; a director's audio commentary; and a documentary entitled, The True Story of Glory Continues narrated by Morgan Freeman. Also included are: an exclusive featurette entitled, Voices of Glory, an original featurette, deleted scenes, production notes, theatrical trailers, talent files, and scene selections.
The Blu-ray disc version of the film was released on June 2, 2009. Special features include: a virtual civil war battlefield, interactive map, The Voice Of Glory feature, The True Story Continues documentary, the making of Glory, director's commentary, and deleted scenes. The film is displayed in widescreen 1.85:1 color format in 1080p screen resolution. The audio is enhanced with Dolby TrueHD sound and is available with subtitles in English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese. A UMD version of the film for the Sony PlayStation Portable was also released on July 1, 2008. It features dubbed, subtitled, and color widescreen format viewing options.
- Denzel Washington filmography
- List of films featuring slavery
- List of films and television shows about the American Civil War
- White savior narrative in film
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