Essay by mck04 January 2005

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Glory captures the heroism of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw and the first

black regiment in the Civil War, the Massachusetts "Fighting"

Fifty-fourth. An extremely talented cast and crew earned three Academy

Awards (cinematography, sound and supporting actor) and five nominations

for their work in Glory. The outstanding cinematography, sound, score

and acting recreate the events leading up to the Union attack on Fort

Wagner on July 18th 1863. Matthew Broderick portrays the young

Bostonian abolitionist Col. Robert G. Shaw who takes command of the

Fifty-fourth, following the Emancipation Proclamation. Shaw along with

Cabot Forbes (Cary Elwes) leads a band of ex slaves, servants and other

black volunteers including a rebellious runaway slave Trip (Denzel

Washington), Shaw's educated childhood friend Thomas Searles (Andre

Braugher), and a former grave digger Rawlins (Morgan Freeman). Together

these men face the adversity of a racist Union Army, struggling to prove

themselves worthy of their government issued blue uniforms.


months of training and exploitation for physical labor, the Fifty-fourth

gains the opportunity to fight in an attack on Fort Wagner on the beaches

of South Carolina. Poised to dispel the belief that blacks would not be

disciplined under fire, the Fifty-fourth leads the almost suicidal attack

on Ft. Wagner. There Col. Shaw valiantly falls and the Fifty-fourth,

suffering great losses, displayed the courage that persuaded the Union to

enlist many more black soldiers. Matthew Broderick delivers a

noteworthy performance in the role of Col. Shaw, which Leonard Maltin

calls his most ambitious part. In an interview for the New York Times,

Broderick spoke of his method acting, "The first step [in

preparing for the role of Robert Gould Shaw in Glory] was to try to learn

as much as I could about the real person. That was mostly from letters,

photographs, descriptions and a poem...