Glory

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Glory

The 1989 film Glory is a classic Civil War film based on the history of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Regiment. The film focuses on the courage displayed by the first black regiment in the Civil War, also known as the “Fighting Fifty-fourth.” The regiment headed by the admirable Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, Matthew Broderick, must overcome an enormous amount of adversity during the war. The film was daring for filmmakers Zwick and Fields because it was a film not only with, “vivid and frightening battle scenes and finely etched dramatic characters, but a film that shattered the great Civil War taboo-it told a story of African Americans(Chadwick). Many articles and texts leading up to the film failed to mention the participation of African Americans in the Civil War. In fact, the participation of African Americans helped turn the course of the war and nearly 300,000 fought for the North.

Glory earned an impressive three Academy Awards due to its exceptionally talented cast and arguably some of the most realistic and memorable Civil War reenactments ever shot. The soundtrack, cinematography, and acting captivated my attention with a combination of triumph and tragedy. These men were fighting to free their very own race which adds to the emotion and sentiment this movie invokes.

Zwick effectively builds the characters of the 54th regiment by portraying the grueling months of training and development. One prominent example of this is in the end of their movie when the 54th is given the chance to fight in an attack on the beach of South Carolina at Fort Wagner. Determined to dismiss the belief that blacks would not be disciplined under fire, the 54th is at the forefront of the suicidal attack on Fort Wagner. During this battle, the 54th displays the courage that persuaded President Lincoln to enlist many more black soldiers.

Zwick’s choice of characters greatly contributed to the success of Glory. Matthew Broderick was an interesting choice to play the lead role of Colonel Shaw and many film critics criticized Zwick’s choice of Broderick. Broderick’s resume included films such as Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and War Games. In these movies he was better known as a teen rebel rather than a serious actor. This role gave Broderick the opportunity to extend his range and add to his resume. It was the acting of Broderick that laid the groundwork upon which the rest of the film could be constructed.

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