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Glory, by Edward Zwick

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With any Hollywood movie based on historical events there always exists an attempt to balance historical accuracy with artistic license. Remaining accurate enough to appeal to those with backgrounds in the field of history while still being entertaining enough for the masses is a difficult task. One that can often lead to disaster. The film Glory is no exception to this attempt at maintaining an equilibrium of fact and fiction. There are numerous mistakes in the film, and graded on this fact alone the film deserves at best a “C.”
Directed by Edward Zwick and starring Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington, Cary Elwes, and Morgan Freeman, Glory was released to theaters in 1989. It received wide critical acclaim and garnered various award nominations, including several Academy Award nominations and wins.
The film recounts the story of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment, one of the first officially sanctioned African American units of the Union Army during the Civil War. It tells this story through the eyes of the regiment’s commander, Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, as well as other members of the 54th. It begins with the unit’s inception and follows them up through their participation in the battle at Fort Wagner, all the while exploring themes of discrimination, justice, determination, and brotherhood.
Many consider Glory to be one of the most accurate historical films ever made. In my limited research I find the overall story of the film to be fairly accurate, but there are still many mistakes in the film. This essay is far from a comprehensive list of these inaccuracies, but it will attempt to point out some of the more interesting ones.
Perhaps the most striking difference between history and Glory are the men ...

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Glory (Special Edition). Dir. Edward Zwick. Perf. Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington, Cary Elwes, and Morgan Freeman. 2001. TriStar Pictures, 1989. DVD.
"Massachusetts Historical Society: 54th Regiment." Massachusetts Historical Society: Welcome! N.p., n.d. Web. 28 June 2013.
McPherson, James M. The Negro's Civil War: How American Negroes Felt and Acted During the War for the Union. New York, New York: Pantheon Books, 1965. Print.
"National Park Civil War Series: The Civil War's Black Soldiers." U.S. National Park Service - Experience Your America. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 July 2013.
Perry, Michelle P. "An Interview with Edward Zwick." The Tech [Cambridge Massachusetts] 24 Jan. 1990: 11. Print.
Shaw, Robert G, and Russell Duncan. Blue-eyed Child of Fortune: The Civil War Letters of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw. Athens, Georgia: University of Georgia Press, 1992. Print.
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