U.S. History in Film

Prof. McClurken’s HIST 329 — Fall 2008

The valiant effort that is Glory

After watching Glory, my first impression was that this was one of the first films I have seen for this class that actually takes into account primary source documents – the personal correspondence of Colonel Shaw. Not only does the film cite the letters as its source for the depiction of historical events, but goes further to provide narration from the letters to further the plot. I have to give props to the filmmakers of Glory for a valiant effort, for their depiction of history actually comes from a man who lived it. Although Gone with the Wind will always have a special place in my heart, with its sweeping epic nature and the romantic saga between Rhett and Scarlet, Glory is many steps above the film version of Margaret Mitchell’s romance novel of the Old South, in terms of historical accuracy, for sure. Not only was the history major part of me appeased by the filmmakers’s efforts to make the movie as accurately as possible, but the obsessive movie goer side of me was also quite entertained. The story of the 54th was a moving, one that tugged at my heartstrings till the very end when Matthew Broderick was thrown in a pit with 45 of his men, face down in the sand. I appreciated the performances by all the famous black actors of the 1990s, including Denzel Washington and Morgan Freeman, as well those by Matthew Broderick and Carey Ellwis, who will always be Westley(Princess Bride) or Robin(Robin Hood: Men in Tights) in my heart. I am glad that Hollywood chose not to make the heroic story of the men of the Massachusetts 54th into a sappy love story with a happy, dramatic ending. In all the respects mentioned in the above rant, Glory was glorious.

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