A stirring and long overdue tribute to the black soldiers who fought for the Union cause in the Civil War, Glory has the sweep and magnificence of a Tolstoy battle tale or a John Ford saga of American history.
Glory tells the story of the 54th Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, the first black fighting unit raised in the North during the Civil War. As the war went on, 186,107 blacks fought for the Union and 37,300 of them died.
Matthew Broderick’s starring role as Col. Shaw, the callow youth from an abolitionist family who proved his mettle in training and leading his black soldiers, is perfectly judged.
Broderick’s boyishness becomes a key element of the drama, as the film shows him confiding his inadequacies in letters home to his mother (the unbilled Jane Alexander) and struggling to assert leadership of his often recalcitrant men.
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The rage caused by ill treatment is searingly incarnated in a great performance by Denzel Washington, as an unbroken runaway slave whose combative relationship with Broderick provides the dramatic heart of the film.
1989: Best Supp. Actor (Denzel Washington), Cinematography.
Nominations: Best Editing, Art Direction, Sound