Glory (1989 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Edward Zwick|
|Produced by||Freddie Fields|
|Screenplay by||Kevin Jarre|
|Based on||Lay This Laurel
by Lincoln Kirstein
One Gallant Rush
by Peter Burchard
|Music by||James Horner|
|Editing by||Steven Rosenblum|
|Studio||Freddie Fields Productions|
|Distributed by||TriStar Pictures|
|Running time||122 minutes|
Glory is a 1989 American drama war film directed by Edward Zwick and starring Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington, Cary Elwes and Morgan Freeman. The screenplay was written by Kevin Jarre, based on the personal letters of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, and the novels Lay This Laurel, by Lincoln Kirstein, and One Gallant Rush, by Peter Burchard.
The story is based on the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, the first formal unit of the US Army to be made up entirely of African American men, as told from the point of view of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, its commanding officer during the American Civil War.
The film 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 US on December 14, 1989, and in wide release on February 16, 1990, making $26,828,365. It was considered a moderate financial success taking into account its $18 million budget. The soundtrack, composed by James Horner in conjunction with the 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 Denzel Washington for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Pvt. Trip. It won many other awards from the British Academy, the Golden Globes, the Kansas City Film Critics Circle, and the NAACP, among others.
Captain Robert Gould Shaw leads a company of Union soldiers in an attack on Confederate troops at the Battle of Antietam. His regiment suffers heavy losses and Shaw is wounded and loses consciousness. He is awakened by a black gravedigger named John Rawlins and sent to a field hospital. While receiving medical attention, Shaw is told that President Lincoln is on the verge of issuing the Emancipation Proclamation freeing slaves in rebel held territory.
While on leave in Boston, Shaw is promoted to Colonel and given command of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry; the first all-black regiment. He accepts and asks his friend, Cabot Forbes, to be his second-in-command. Their first volunteer is another of Shaw's friends, an educated black man named Thomas Searles. Others who join the regiment include an escaped slave named Silas Trip, a free black man named Jupiter Sharts, as well as the gravedigger Rawlins. At the military camp, the company is forced to endure the unyielding and strict discipline of Sergeant Major Mulcahy. Shaw ensures that the troops are trained effectively and properly equipped despite institutional racism, thus earning the respect of his men.
The 54th is deployed to Georgia and is assigned mostly menial work. Shaw confronts his commanding officers Charles Garrison Harker and James M. Montgomery, accusing them of war profiteering and corruption and threatening to report them if the 54th infantry is not deployed for combat. Shaw's request is granted and the regiment participates in a skirmish in South Carolina where they successfully repel a Confederate attack. Soon after, Shaw volunteers to lead an assault on Fort Wagner. As his troops march into battle, the supporting white brigades, who had been skeptical of black soldiers, exhort "Give 'em hell, 54th!" At dusk, Shaw personally leads his men in a charge upon the fort under heavy fire. As they attempt to advance under cover of darkness, they become pinned down. Shaw rallies forward but is shot and killed prompting his men to charge. Though the 54th succeeds in breaching the fort, the attack is repulsed and Gould, Trip, Rawlins, Forbes, Searles and Sharts die in the fighting.
The film's epilogue reveals that Fort Wagner was never taken, but notes that news of the regiment's courage spurred the recruitment of more than 180,000 African American volunteers, a fact which President Lincoln considered instrumental in the Union's victory.
- Matthew Broderick as Colonel Robert Gould Shaw
- Denzel Washington as Private Silas Trip
- Morgan Freeman as Sergeant Major John Rawlins
- Cary Elwes as Major Cabot Forbes
- Cliff De Young as Colonel James Montgomery
- Andre Braugher as Private Thomas Searles
- Jihmi Kennedy as Private Jupiter Sharts
- Alan North as Governor John Albion Andrew
- John Finn as Sergeant Major Mulcahy
- 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
The premise of Glory is loosely based on the true story of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry led by Colonel Robert Gould Shaw. Kevin Jarre's inspiration for writing the film came from viewing a monument to Shaw and the 54th in Boston Common. Jarre's screenplay was based on Colonel Shaw's letters and on two books, Lincoln Kirstein's Lay This Laurel and Peter Burchard's One Gallant Rush.
Principal filming took place primarily in Massachusetts and Georgia. Opening passages, meant to portray the Battle of Antietam, were volunteer military reenactors filmed at a major engagement at the Gettysburg battlefield. Director Zwick did not want to turn Glory "into a Black story with a more commercially convenient white hero." Actor 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 historian Shelby Foote as a technical adviser; he later became widely known for his contributions to Ken Burns' popular PBS nine-episode documentary, The Civil War (1990).
|Glory Original Motion Picture Soundtrack|
|Film score by James Horner|
|Released||November 1, 1990|
The original motion picture soundtrack for Glory, was released by the Virgin Records label on January 11, 1990. The score for the film was 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 paperback novel published by St. Martin's Press, One Gallant Rush: Robert Gould Shaw and His Brave Black Regiment, was released in January 1990. The book dramatizes the events depicted in the film, expanding on how the 54th Massachusetts developed as battle-ready soldiers. The book summarizes the historical events and the aftermath of the first Union black regiment influencing the outcome of the war.
Among major professional critics in the U.S., the film received overwhelmingly positive reviews for its story line and production values, though the critical verdict was more moderate in its evaluation of Matthew Broderick's performance in the leading role.
Vincent Canby, writing in The New York Times, exclaimed: "[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 in the Chicago Sun-Times called it "a strong and valuable film no matter whose eyes it is seen through." He believed the production design credited to Norman Garwood and Freddie Francis paid "enormous attention to period detail". Ebert just had one qualm about the film wondering why a "black experience" had to be seen "largely through white eyes."
|"Glory is constructed as an inspirational tale, but the inspiration is not forced or false. It is rooted in the characters and the manner in which they overcome obstacles, including, most prominently, their own personal demons."|
|—James Berardinelli, writing for ReelViews|
Similarly, the Variety staff wrote that the film was "A stirring and long overdue tribute to the black soldiers who fought for the Union cause in the Civil War" and that the film "has the sweep and magnificence of a Tolstoy battle tale or a John Ford saga of American history." On Broderick's performance, they believed his "boyishness becomes a key element of the drama, as the film shows him confiding his inadequacies". Desson Howe of The Washington Post, stated that with Glory, "it's hard not to get carried along". He praised the individual cinematic elements saying the motion picture was "a thoroughly pleasant experience, a lightweight, liberal-heart-swollen high." He did, however, point out some flaws by mentioning Broderick as "an amiable non-presence, creating unintentionally the notion that the 54th earned their stripes despite wimpy leadership". Jonathan Rosenbaum of the Chicago Reader, rated Glory as "pretty watchable" and calling it an "always interesting period film, well photographed by English cinematographer Freddie Francis." The film, however, was not without its detractors. Peter Travers of the Rolling Stone, was not impressed at all with the overall acting, calling Broderick "catastrophically miscast as Shaw". Alternatively, Richard Schickel of TIME described his enthusiasm for 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."
Writing for the Entertainment Weekly, Mark Bernardin said the film's strength "belongs to the powerhouse supporting cast – Morgan Freeman, Andre Braugher (in his first movie role), and Denzel Washington". He added: "The magic of Glory comes from the film itself. It speaks of heroism writ large, from people whom history had made small." James Berardinelli writing for ReelViews, called the film "without question, one of the best movies ever made about the American Civil War" and noted that it "has important things to say, yet it does so without becoming pedantic" Berardinelli also commented: "For a motion picture made on a relatively modest budget, Glory looks great. From a technical standpoint, the movie is a masterpiece, and the verisimilitude of the battle scenes is not in question." Marjorie Baumgarten of The Austin Chronicle, applauded the film as a "fabulous historical re-creation [that] depicts the experiences of America's first unit of black soldiers in the Civil War and the young Northerner who leads them." Rating the film with 4 Stars, critic Leonard Maltin wrote that the film was "Grand, moving, breathtakingly filmed (by veteran cinematographer Freddie Francis) and faultlessly performed". He ardently exclaimed that it was "One of the finest historical dramas ever made."
|"Watching "Glory," I had one reccuring [sic] 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|
Chris Hicks of the Deseret News, said the film was "Big in scope, powerful in its storytelling drama, yet intimate in its character and relationship development." Referring to Broderick, he found the acting "does very well as the young officer, and among his troops are two of our finest actors — Morgan Freeman...and Denzel Washington." In TimeOut, author CM wrote that in terms of authenticity, "the battle sequences are truly impressive." He exclaimed, "the stark clarity of Freddie Francis' cinematography combined with Zwick's intimate style evokes immediacy and fear." On another positive front, the staff of TV Guide commented on the production values of the film, saying they were "Richly plotted, alternately inspiring and horrifying, Glory is an enlightening and entertaining tribute to heroes too long forgotten." While on the acting merits, they noted "Glory also contains especially compelling performances by Broderick, Washington, and Freeman." Film critic 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."
The film was nominated and won several awards in 1989–90. Among awards won were from the Academy Awards, the Kansas City Film Critics Circle Awards and the Golden Globe Awards. A complete list of awards the film won or was nominated for are listed below.
|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||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 - Nominated Hero (Trip)
- 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 U.S.. During its limited opening weekend, the film grossed $63,661 in business showing at 3 locations. Its official wide release was screened in theaters on February 16, 1990. Opening in a distant 8th 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. The film 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 cinematic release in theaters, the film was released in VHS video format on June 22, 1990. The Region 1 Code widescreen edition of the film was released on DVD in the United States on January 20, 1998. Special features for the DVD include, interactive menus, scene selections, widescreen 1.85:1 color anamorphic format along with subtitles in English, Spanish and French.
A special edition repackaged version of Glory was also officially released on DVD on January 2, 2007. The DVD set includes two discs featuring; widescreen and full screen versions of the film; Picture-in-Picture video commentary from director Ed Zwick and actors Morgan Freeman and Matthew Broderick; a director's audio commentary; a documentary entitled, "The True Story of Glory Continues" narrated by Morgan Freeman; 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 TruHD 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. The disc features dubbed, subtitled, and color widescreen format viewing options.
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