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A Critique of GLORY
Kevin Jarre (script writer of "Glory") was walking across Boston one day when he noticed a Civil War memorial. This memorial seemed ordinary until he noticed that some of the men in it were black. The American Civil War is usually thought as the war to free the slaves. It has hardly ever occurred to most people, including Kevin Jarre, that blacks actually fought in the Civil War. This Civil War Monument became the inspiration behind the creation of the movie "Glory".
This movie tells the story of the 54th Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, which was made up of black soldiers. It was believed by most that blacks would not make good soldiers and would not stay discipline under fire, but the 54th fought in one of the bloodiest battles of the War. The attack on Fort Wagner was suicidal due to the battle tactics of the day, which were to train troops to continue to march into heavy artillery fire. Because of the 54th Regimentís performance that day the North decided to heavily recruit blacks into the army.
"Glory" mainly tells the story of the 54th Regiment through the eyes of Robert Shaw, who is played by Matthew Broderick). After Shaw has returned home from wounds he has suffered in the war, he was recruited by the Governor of Massachusetts to form a black regiment. As the movie progresses the soldiers provide Shaw with new insights into race and humanity. Among the main characters and leaders of the 54th are Trip (Denzel Washington), an escaped slave and John Rawlins (Morgan Freeman). These are proud to be soldiers, proud to wear the uniform and proud to face the racism they will receive; as when they refuse pay when they find out they will earn less.
"Glory" is directed by Edward Zwick, who displays much attention to detail, as in when the children of poor black sharecroppers look on in amazement on the appearance of black soldiers. The entire film leads up to the famous, bloody Battle at Fort Wagner where most of the regiment, including Shaw, will die. The only problem I had with "Glory" was the entire film is told through the eyes of Colonel Shaw, a white man. It would have been interesting to see the war form the perspective of the black soldiers. This storyline seems to a black experience, so why does a Matthew Broderick get the top billing in this film. Maybe one reason is that the experience of the 54th changes the perspective of the white man during the Civil War.