The negroes fought gallantly and were headed by as brave a Colonel as ever lived", was one Confederate soldier's eyewitness verdict on the 54th Massachusetts Volunteers immediately after 247 of their 600-man regiment had fallen in bloody swathes beneath the withering fire from Fort Wagner near Charleston, South Carolina in 1863. Glory is their story: the mustering of the first black regiment in the US Army, their battles with the Southerners as well as with the Northern military authorities, and their own moment of glory when they paid a terrible price for the opportunity... to demonstrate to the world their courage. In telling this little-known story, director Ed Zwick single-handedly changed perceptions of the American Civil War: when a Grand Review of the Armies was held in Washington at the end of the war, none of the almost 180,000 coloured troops who fought for the Union were present; when that parade was restaged in 1990 a year after the movie was released, the 54th Massachusetts re-enactors were at the front of the procession. Zwick's stirring, factually accurate account is greatly enhanced by obsessive period detail and frighteningly realistic battle reconstructions (which were not to be surpassed in scale until 1993's Gettysburg). But Zwick also illuminates individual characters in the regiment with great sensitivity. As crucial as the military set-pieces are the scenes of the men together: talking in the tent or baring their souls in song. Denzel Washington, as the embittered ex-slave, gives a performance of real depth; he richly deserved his Oscar win for the heartbreaking flogging scene alone. Morgan Freeman brings great gravitas to his paternalistic role, and Matthew Broderick's idealistic Colonel Shaw is the centre around which the story revolves. With a clutch of remarkable lead performances, a sensitive and touching script, one of James Horner's finest musical scores, and a director with both the vision and heart to pull it off it's easy to agree with the backcover blurb: "Glory is one of the greatest war movies ever made". Without even a hint of hyperbole, it undoubtedly is. On the DVD: This is a superb looking (anamorphic) and sounding (Dolby 5.1) print, and the disc has some excellent additional features. Ed Zwick's commentary is insightful and extremely detailed: here's a director who obviously cares deeply about this movie. Of the three featurettes, one is a short-ish promo piece but the other two are genuinely impressive: there's a 20-minute "Making of" feature with major contributions from Zwick, Freeman and Broderick, and best of all a 45-minute "The True Story Continues" feature narrated by Freeman which tells the complete story of the 54th Massachusetts from beginning to end using footage from the movie as well as archive material and film of battle re-enactments. Also included are two deleted scenes, although a third scene which was shot for the movie but not used (the Frederick Douglass' speech) crops up in the "True Story" piece. James Horner's emotive score gets an isolated track all to itself and there are also some filmographies and trailers. All in all, this is a superb DVD. --Mark Walker [show more]
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Please note this is a region 2 DVD and will require a region 2 (Europe) or region Free DVD Player in order to play. Robert Gould Shaw leads the US Civil War's first all-black volunteer company, fighting prejudices of both his own Union army and the Confederates.
During the American Civil War, Colonel Robert Gould Shaw (Matthew Broderick), a white northern officer, is given the unpopular job of leading the first all-black unit: the 54th Regiment of Massachusetts. The company, which includes Emerson scholar Searles (Andre Braugher), gravedigger Rawlins (Morgan Freeman) and runaway slave Trip (Denzel Washington), are treated as inferiors by the white enlistees and other officers. When the unit is offered less than standard pay, Shaw supports them in their refusal to accept on principal. The 54th go on to prove themselves in the field of battle, making a suicidal attempt to penetrate Fort Wagner in South Carolina.