During the American Civil War, Captain Robert Shaw (Matthew Broderick) is injured in the Battle of Antietam and sent home to Boston on medical leave. He visits his family there, where he meets the abolitionist Frederick Douglass, a former slave. Shaw is offered a promotion to the rank of Colonel to command the first all-black regiment in the Union Army, the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. He accepts and asks his childhood friend, 1st Lieutenant Cabot Forbes (Cary Elwes), to serve as his second in command, with the rank of major. Their first volunteer is another friend, Thomas Searles (Andre Braugher), a bookish free African American. Other recruits soon follow, including gravedigger John Rawlins (Morgan Freeman), timid freeman Jupiter Sharts and Silas Trip (Denzel Washington), an escaped slave who does not trust Shaw. Trip instantly clashes with Searles and Rawlins must keep the peace. The men learn that the Confederacy has issued an order that all black soldiers found in Union uniform will be summarily executed, as will their white officers, and are offered a chance to take a honorable discharge, but none do. The black soldiers undergo a severe training regimen under Irish Sergeant-Major Mulcahy. When Shaw confronts Mulcahy about his methods he comes to realize that Mulcahy is in fact training them fairly and is trying to prepare the men for the extreme challenges that they will face. Shaw is forced to deal with the prejudices of both the enemy and of his own fellow officers while pushing for the glory of getting the order to engage the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry into battle…

“Glory” was nominated for five Academy Awards and won three, including Denzel Washington for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Private Trip. It won many other awards, including from the British Academy, the Golden Globe Awards, the Kansas City Film Critics Circle, Political Film Society, the NAACP, among others. Glory was the first major motion picture to tell the story of African Americans fighting for their freedom in the Civil War and came as a revelation to millions of Americans who had no knowledge of their participation. “Glory” is an interesting and well made period piece of a horrifying bit of US history and a war that killed more than 600 000 people. The storyline of how African Americans joined the Union army and fought under the flag is important to tell and it also becomes an homage to all the African Americans who died in that process. But, with that said “Glory” suffers as well from several problems in my eyes. Roger Ebert, writing in the Chicago Sun-Times said: “Watching “Glory,” I had one reccuring problem. I didn’t understand why it had to be told so often from the point of view of the 54th’s white commanding officer. Why did we see the black troops through his eyes – instead of seeing him through theirs? To put it another way, why does the top billing in this movie go to a white actor?” Re-watching “Glory” today several things come to my mind. Matthew Broderick is not really convincing as Colonel Shaw, he has this lightweight aura and this non-presence that makes you not believe he had that leader in him to handle the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. And I reckon the same lightweight feeling hoovers over Cary Elwes, while Morgan Freeman and particularly Denzel Washington gives weight to the film. Washington won a well deserved Oscar for his performance in “Glory”, but today we have seen him in so many similar roles his magic has slightly worn off when seeing him as Trip today. The cinematography is quite vivid and strong, there´s storytelling drama and the characters gets space to development themselves. And the film has some strong and rememberable scenes, like when Trip is flogged, but at the same time way too many scenes border to pathetic flag waving patriotic sappiness and the good scenes sort of disappears or dies due to that. The movie feels so Hollywoodised in many ways (how they handle the story of the fighting African Americans, the general vibe/feel and the development of the characters) and set-up with “How to try to make an epic war movie A-Z” handbook and I simply can´t get past that. The story is there without no doubt, but the end result is not fully satisfying in my eyes. (3 and a half out of 5)

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