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Glory Movie Review

black washington trip denzel

1989 – Edward Zwick –

Inspiring stories usually prove to be easier to find than to commit to film with critical and commercial success. While Glory starts out a little slow, the drama and human interactions that take place once a company of black soldiers comes together eventually prove compelling. Based on the 54th Massachusetts, the first black volunteer infantry regiment in the Civil War, Glory takes the viewer into the life of not just any soldier but a black soldier during a war fought to free his race from slavery. It was a hard enough time for a black man, but it was a terrible time for a black soldier. The film follows the 54th Massachusetts from its inception to its fateful assault on Fort Wagner in July 1863.

The film benefits from some fine actors who portray engaging characters. The sensitive, but firm Colonel Shaw is played by Matthew Broderick in his best performance. The kid from WarGames and Ferris Bueller's Day Off is now mature and believable commanding a regiment of black volunteers. Cary Elwes portrays Cabot Forbes, Shaw's childhood friend who becomes his second-in-command. Denzel Washington brings to life Trip, a trouble-making runaway slave whose bitterness is often masked by indifference. For his efforts he was awarded the best supporting actor Oscar and became a star. Morgan Freeman gives a powerful performance as Sergeant Major John Rawlins. His character may be the most philosophical member of the 54th. He begins the war as a gravedigger, and in one memorable scene with Trip, he puts the entire war in perspective for him and everyone else within earshot when he confronts Trip over his hatred of whites.

Fine ensemble acting is not the only thing Glory has going for it. James Horner has written a hauntingly beautiful score that helps magnify the wonderful camera work of Freddie Francis. Together, they create some impressive moments, highlighted by the suicidal attack on a confederate hilltop stronghold. The lighting of the night scene of the assault on Fort Wagner is also impressive, intensified by the pyrotechnics that simulate exploding shells in front of the Union forces in the assault.

Cast: Matthew Broderick (Colonel Robert G. Shaw), Denzel Washington (Trip), Cary Elwes (Cabot Forbes), Morgan Freeman (John Rawlins), Jihmi Kennedy (Sharts), Andre Braugher (Lieutenant Thomas Searles), John Finn (Sergeant Mulcahy), Donovan Leitch (Morse), John David Cullum (Russell), Alan North (Governor Andrew), Bob Gunton (General Harter), Cliff De Young (Colonel Montgomery), Christian Baskous (Pierce), Ronreaco Lee (Mute Drummer Boy), Jay O. Sanders (General Strong), Richard Riehle (Quartermaster) Screenwriter: Kevin Jarre Cinematographer: Freddie Francis Composer: James Horner Producer: Freddie Fields for Columbia Pictures MPAA Rating: R Running Time: 122 minutes Format: VHS, LV Awards: Academy Awards, 1989: Cinematography, Sound, Supporting Actor (Denzel Washington); Nominations: Art Direction/Set Direction, Film Editing; Golden Globe Awards, 1990: Supporting Actor (Denzel Washington) Box Office: $26.8M.

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