This said, you can see why Glory is a very special exception to my rule of antipathy towards war films with muskets in them.
Marking Edward Zwick's first, and perhaps finest, attempt at directing a serious film, Glory concerns the first black regiment of the Civil War. It follows the 54th of Massachusetts from their formation at the behest of Boston abolitionists to their martyrdom at Battery Wagner in South Carolina. A note: I feel no guilt about telling you this. It is akin to saying the ship sinks at the end of Titanic.
Although the film, as one retells the plot, should feel a little hokey, it has no such aura about it. It does not feel contrived. It does not feel blaring in its point about equality. What it does feel like is an incredibly compelling movie of the bond formed not only between soldiers but between man and man... regardless of color.
The script works, but does not work great. The acting works, but, with the exception of Denzel Washington's Academy-Award winning performance, does not work great. In fact, aside from such things as those that grabbed awards in this film, nothing works exceptionally well.
What makes Glory the finest Civil War film (and one of the finest war films period) that I have ever seen whittles down to the infamous X-factor: The unidentifiable component of a movie known as magic. It is perhaps the end result of the ingredients of the witch's brew of moviemaking.
This X-factor does not merit further discussion. It is, like the laws of Physics, one of the things of the universe to which the why can only be explained by a higher power. I have spent five years contemplating said X-factor, and am no closer to realizing what makes a good movie good then when I started. I only know this: when a movie is crap, it is crap. When a movie is good, it is good. And Glory is very, very good.
Run time: 122 mins
In Theaters: Friday 16th February 1990
Box Office Worldwide: $26.8M
Distributed by: TriStar
Production compaines: Freddie Fields Productions, TriStar Pictures
Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
Fresh: 38 Rotten: 3
IMDB: 8.0 / 10
Director: Edward Zwick
Producer: Freddie Fields
Screenwriter: Kevin Jarre
Starring: Matthew Broderick as Col. Robert Gould Shaw, Denzel Washington as Pvt. Trip, Cary Elwes as Maj. Cabot Forbes, Morgan Freeman as Sgt. Maj. John Rawlins, Jihmi Kennedy as Pvt. Jupiter Sharts, Andre Braugher as Cpl. Thomas Searles, John Finn as Sgt. Maj. Mulcahy, Donovan Leitch, Jr. as Capt. Charles Fessenden Morse, JD Cullum as Henry Sturgis Russell, Alan North as Gov. John Albion Andrew, Bob Gunton as Gen. Charles Garrison Harker, Cliff De Young as Col. James M. Montgomery, Christian Baskous as Edward L. Pierce, RonReaco Lee as Mute Drummer Boy, Jay O. Sanders as Gen. George Crockett Strong