U.S. History in Film

Prof. McClurken’s HIST 329 — Fall 2008

It’s What Glory Did Not Say

This was the first time I had ever seen this movie and I must say I was impressed. I thought it was entertaining and engaging. I agree with Elizabeth, I too would put this in the Amistad category of historical accuracy with crucial shortcomings. The problem I have with this movie is that it portrays the 54th, in fact, the entire Union victory as a forgone conclusion. The sense I got from the lecture and readings was that during the war, the situation was a little more tenuous. Dr. McClurken said that Blacks learned the heartbreaking realities of politics and discrimination through their service. Although the movie did a good job of showing racism towards blacks in the military at first, by the end of the movie all of the wounds were healed. The movie did not reference the New York draft riots, or convey the truth that the majority of black battalions were actually labor units. This movie makes it seem like once the black soldiers proved themselves as capable brothers- in- arms, a certain equality had been achieved. I also take issue with the fact that the film portrays the South as all bad, and the North as either racist- white or tolerant- white. The political situation was far more complicated, and the movie fell short in representing the viewpoints that shaped the social and political landscape of the Civil War.  I guess the best way to put it is, what the film left out is more damaging than what was in.

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