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1) The 1989 film Glory! seemingly represents a cinematic repentance for earlier failures to do justice to the black experience of slavery and the Civil War. Ultimately it is a failure, albeit a magnificent one -- a fine film that teaches the important truth that 178,000 African-American men served the Union cause and 37,000 of them died in that cause. Moreover, even the failures of Glory expose the fault lines of both race and class in contemporary America, at moments becoming a kind of parable for the strange configurations of these variables since the Civil War. (W. Scott Poole)

2) By depicting the heroic efforts of the Blacks to help win the battle of Fort Wagner, the Hollywood movie, according to the following interpretations, wants to make African Americans own up to the myth of American national unity. Ultimately, Glory wishes to serve as an antidote to the “disuniting of America.” (Heike Bungert)

3) At stake here is the significance of Hollywood’s interest in the Civil War and the role that films about the subject have tended to play in the task of reconciling competing visions of what constitutes the United States socially, culturally, and politically. (McCrisken and Pepper)

4) It is understandable that Kevin Jarre, the screenwriter, took some liberties in the interests of drama, but there are excessive fabrications here. (John Simon)

5) Right in the van,
On the red rampart's slippery swell,
With heart that beat a charge, he fell
Foeward, as fits a man;
But the high soul burns on to light men's feet
Where death for noble ends makes dying sweet. (James Russell Lowell, Memoriae Positum of R.G. Shaw, 1863, qtd. in Burchard 1965)

6) In Edward Zwick’s Glory -- a sturdily mediocre, sometimes moving spectacle film about the first black regiment raised in the North during the Civil War -- the roles are a series of stock characters borrowed from World War II platoon movies. (David Denby)

7) Zwick has made an engrossing, sometimes stirring, sometimes wobbly film. . . . [He] seems more concerned with feelings than with history, though some of his battle scenes have a stark, intimate power. (David Ansen)

8) [A specific strategy of “true invention” that worked in Glory is] alteration. Most of the soldiers in the 54th were not, as the film implies, ex-slaves, but in fact had been freemen before the war. One can justify the alteration by suggesting that is serves to bring the particular experience of this unit into line with the larger experience of African-Americans in the Civil War, to generalize from the 54th to what happened elsewhere in the Union to slaves who were freed. (Robert Rosenstone)

9) The deprivations, unfair treatment received and single-minded persistent devotion of heroism of these soldiers would be difficult to exaggerate. It is certain that the heroism of Robert Gould Shaw and the enlisted men of the Fifty-Fourth Regiment was the principal rallying point for black participation in the war as free men fighting slavery. The subsequent history of the Fifty-Fourth Regiment, fighting on through the war, and the contribution of other black regiments in a national history often dominated by shameful event form an episode that gives cause for pride. (Kirstein and Benson 1973, III)

10) It is hugely difficult in any society, black or white, to come up with legitimate heroes. (Edward Zwick, qtd. in Cullen 1995, 153)

11) Though the film makes claim to the effect that it was recovering a previously overlooked incident in American Civil War and African-American history, it is simply incorporating a version of that history into a larger narrative that privileges and celebrate Shaw’s vision and courage. (McCrisken and Pepper)

12) Can movies teach history? For Glory, the answer is yes. Not only is it the first feature film to treat the role of black soldiers in the American Civil War, but it is also one of the most powerful and historically accurate movies ever made about the war. (James McPherson)

13) Now I feel ready to die, for I see you are willing to give your support to the cause of truth that is lying crushed and bleeding. (Sarah Blake Sturgis Shaw in a letter to her son, qtd. in Kirstein 1973)

14) Maybe one’s good response to Glory derives from the sheer novelty of the thing and from admiration for the producers’ gumption in flinging it in the face of the movie audience’s indifference to the pretelevised past. But not entirely. For the specific events the film narrates . . . are little known yet resonant with high symbolic significance. (Richard Schickel)

15) One hopes one is not making a quaint historical pageant. You are making drama that you hope has contemporary elements. Pop culture's all about iconography. These men, these faces in uniform, is finally the iconography this movie presents. If there's a certain degree of liberal fantasy in that, well, so be it. (Edward Zwick, qtd. in Cullen 1995, 141)

16) I wouldn’t hesitate to call Glory the most beautiful movie ever made. From a technical standpoint, the film is a magnificent achievement of glorious grandeur. The sweeping, Oscar-winning cinematography of the Civil War battlefield embodies the breathtaking rush of any classic war film. The majestic, awe-inspiring musical score (by James Horner) accompanies the story thrust faultlessly, capturing the pointless devastation of battle and the courage of the human spirit in one incredible soundtrack. Edward Zwick directs with immaculate precision, going to staggering measures to deliver a moral of utmost importance. (Jamey Hughton)

17) I want you to prove yourselves. The eyes of thousands will look on what you do tonight. (Colonel Robert Gould Shaw to his regiment, according to what)

18) The impression of these old soldiers passing the very spot where they left for the war so many years before, thrills me even as I write these words [ca. 1905]. They seemed as if returning from the war, the troops of bronze marching in the opposite direction--the direction in which they left for the front, the young men in the bas-relief showing these veterans the hope and vigor of youth....It was a consecration. (Saint-Gaudens, at the unveiling of his monument on May 31, 1897, as qtd. in Kirstein 1973, VI)

19) By granting African Americans some pride and a better image on the screen, Hollywood, and with it white America, hoped to reconcile blacks with the dominant, still WASP-determined ideology of hard work, sacrifice and common struggle. On the other hand, the critical and popular success of Glory shows that white America is increasingly willing to acknowledge the black contribution to American history, thus illustrating that Hollywood not only creates ideologies but in turn is molded by social and political changes. (Heike Bungert)

20) I think that the proposition to make soldiers of the slaves is the most pernicious idea that has been suggested since the war began. You cannot make soldiers of slaves, or slaves of soldiers. The day you make a soldier of them is the beginning of the end of the revolution. And if slaves seem good soldiers, then our whole theory of slavery is wrong. (Former U.S. Senator and Confederate General Howell Cobb of Georgia, as qtd. in McPherson Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era 1988, 835)

21) Heroic or otherwise, in no major Civil War movie since World War II has race played any major role, with the exception of Glory. Thus the film is notable not only in being the first Hollywood film in years to return to a war that had a bad cinematic reputation, but also in focusing on race, a cinematic theme with a troubled -- and often conspicuously silent -- history. (Jim Cullen 1995, 155)

22) The teacher’s use of Glory (1989) also needs to be problematized, however, and forces us to ask several key questions. What else is being reinforced when films portray stories of groups traditionally marginalized in history? What are students learning about the history of African Americans and their role within U.S. history when films like Glory are used as part of the curriculum -- and how does this align with one of the core goals of social studies—to develop citizens for a pluralistic democracy? (Stoddard and Marcus)

23) I don't have a problem with that. You cannot reasonably ask a white writer to do it differently. Now, if we're going to start citing some unfortunates, it might be unfortunate that a black writer didn't write it, but if a black writer had written it, there's a good chance he wouldn't have found a producer. So there you are. This is a movie that did get made, and a story that did get told, and that's what is important. (Morgan Freeman's response to critic Roger Ebert's charge that the movie focuses too much on the white point of view, qtd. in Cullen 1995, 166)

24) It's important for the young people of America to know what it's [Glory] all about and still be entertained by it. (Glory Executive Producer, Freddie Fields, qtd. in Original Featurette of the Glory DVD 1989)

25) Sometimes facts are the enemy of drama. (Edward Zwick to Matthew Broderick, qtd. in Picture-in-Picture Video Commentary from Glory DVD)

26) Glory does a great service in raising this complex issue [class -- through the character of Thomas], an issue that historians have not always covered in their emphasis on the unity created by racial consciousness. . . . Reflecting somewhat anachronistic concerns about identity, Thomas slowly rediscovers his “blackness” toward the film’s conclusion. (W. Scott Poole)

27) Glory, then, is not simply a movie that portrays a cause worth dying for. It is also a movie that portrays a cause worth killing for, which makes it more complicated. It suggests a yearning for moral, collective commitments in the twilight of the Reagan era. At the same time, it evokes a militant fervor that has often been distorted and exploited by unscrupulous leaders and careless voters. This is the risk a free society takes, and it is hard to see how it can be avoided. (Jim Cullen 1995, 171)

28) Glory allows a number of interpretations. Its first purpose consists of making a contribution to the new black history. . . . Denzel Washington and Morgan Freeman remarked: “We weren’t just a byproduct of the cotton industry”; “this film opens up the possibility of black history pieces.” . . . The second purpose of the movie is to portray the idealistic heroism of the Civil War soldiers willing to die for country and liberty. The ultimate aim of the movie, however, is to serve as an antidote to the “disuniting of America,” to use Arthur Schlesinger’s words. The film obviously wants to convey an integrative message. (Heike Bungert)

29) Glory . . . made during the last days of the Reagan presidency and released in 1989, might not seem particularly fertile territory for developing an argument about the emergence of a new political and aesthetic sensibility in contemporary Hollywood’s engagement with American history. (McCrisken and Pepper)

30) The direction by Edward Zwick . . . is not bad, but depends on too many clichés or near-cliches. Still, some of the battle sequences, both at Antietam and in the 54th’s climactic assault on Ft. Wagner are effective, possible because Zwick studied two other Civil War films -- John Huston’s Red Badge of Courage and Robert Enrico’s Au Coeur de la vei -- both of them better than Glory. (John Simon)

31) It's [Glory] dealing with an issue that hasn't really been explored on film. I think the statements it has to make will be important ones. (Cary Elwes, qtd. in Original Featurette of the Glory DVD 1989)

32) Glory is at its best when it shows their [the soldiers] proud embrace of 19th century warfare at is most brutal. . . . The fact that the 54th finally achieves respect only by losing half its number in a foredoomed assault on an impregnable fortress underscores this terrible and brutal irony. (Richard Schickel)

33) In Glory, differences are initially disregarded, then celebrated and finally incorporated into a variegated hierarchy of interests. . . . What we see up on the screen is beholden less to the demands of historical authenticity than to a contemporary logic where American hegemony is asserted but within a newly emergent neo-liberal order that is continually being remade. (McCrisken and Pepper)

34) ...everything softened and made unreal by distance, poor little Robert Shaw erected into a great symbol of deeper things than he ever realized himself. (William James to Henry James, Jr. in a 5 June 1897 letter, qtd. in Duncan 1992)

35) However, there is a larger truth [than the fictions in the film]. Glory’s point is made symbolically in one of its most surreal and, at first glance, irrelevant scenes. During a training exercise, Shaw gallops his horse along a path flanked by stakes, each holding aloft a watermelon (in February in Massachusetts?). Shaw slashes right and left with his sword, slicing and smashing every watermelon. The point becomes clear when we recall the identification of watermelons with the “darky” stereotype. If the image of smashed watermelons in Glory can replace that of moonlight and magnolias in Gone with the Wind as America’s cinematic version of the Civil War, it will be a great gain for truth. (James McPherson)

36) Trip strikes out again and again at a world that has literally struck him -- the world of whiteness. . . . A significant thread of the film’s narrative concerns Trip’s “redemption” from a destructive streak of rebellion into a studies defiance of all the various machinery of white supremacy. To their credit, the filmmakers show us a character who learns to channel his anger. (W. Scott Poole)

37) Glory is filled with rousing, spectacular battle sequences, particularly the jaw-dropping climactic attack on Fort Wagner. From the costuming to cinematography, the landscapes to period set design -- everything in this film is stunning. Glory is a powerful, memorable motion picture that easily captures the title of the finest war movie ever constructed. And I‟m convinced a huge fraction of the dramatic impact would be lost without James Horner‟s exquisite musical score, perhaps my all-time favorite. The term "beautiful" is an understatement, so dubbing Glory the greatest film ever made will have to suffice. (Jamey Hughton)

38) Zwick . . . doesn’t rise to the imaginative level required by his noble subject. The movie is stiffly staged and written, and could use a little more basic exposition to explain such things as why the opposing armies drew within 30 paces of each other before shooting. (David Denby)

39) The historical for the usage of compressed characters [the fictional black characters] is that these four men stand for the various possible positions that blacks could take toward the Civil War and the larger issues of racism and black-white relations, topics that are not solely “historical” -- or that, like all historical topics, involve an interpenetration of past and present. (Robert Rosenstone)

40) Of the teachers in urban districts, which make up 23% of our sample and presumably include more students of color, 26% used Glory and 32% used Amistad. The numbers rise sharply in predominantly white suburban districts, which made up 39% of our sample, and where 76% of teachers used Glory and 46% used Amistad. (Stoddard and Marcus)

41) [The whipping of Trip] suggests almost a moral equivalency between the slaveholding South and the Union, a notion pleasing perhaps only to Neo-Confederates and the Black Panthers. . . . Its inclusion works mischief within the narrative itself, suppressing and literally flogging the notion of black agency. . . . His sufferings become part of a kind of redemption narrative. . . . The breaking of Trip did not result from an unconscious racism on the part of filmmakers, but from the need to resolve a narrative dilemma they themselves created within the film. Making use of a black rage defined more by the 1965 Watts Riots than by the Civil War-era black massacres at Fort Pillow or Milliken’s Bend, the filmmakers needed to show the reality of black soldiers participating fully and bravely in the fight for their freedom. Trip, therefore, had to be broken to reach the point where he would charge. . . . Trip’s anger at the entire white establishment, and not merely white slaveholders, represents an anachronism matched by Trip’s unlikely use of inner-city lingo. (W. Scott Poole)

42) Many of the events described in Glory are fictional; the incident of the racist quartermaster who initially refuses to distribute shoes to Shaw’s men; the whipping Trip receives as punishment for going AWOL; the regiment’s dramatic refusal on principle to accept less pay than white soldiers, which shames Congress into equalizing the pay of black soldiers (this actually happened, but at Shaw’s initiative, not Trip’s); the religious meeting the night before the assault on Fort Wagner. (James McPherson)

43) Since the myth in Glory is unity, the owning up of African Americans to the national myth provides social cohesion in a double way. On the one hand, the film projects unity quite literally, because the myth of unity is a predominant theme in the movie; on the other hand, every myth, regardless of its content, is a contributing factor for social cohesion. . . . By employing the means of the combat film genre, the film shows the welding together of different parts of the black population and their uniting in a common effort with their white countrymen. (Heike Bungert)

44) Glory should be applauded for its positive contribution to the ongoing project of recovering preciously marginalized black histories and for recognizing the sacrifice made by 180,000 African-American soldiers during the Civil War. In this respect, its usefulness as a pedagogical tool is self-evident. What should concern us when thinking about Glory is not the fact that, for example, the drill sergeant is represented as Irish and not as African-American but rather how this disjuncture needs to be understood as the manifestation of particular discursive and ideological strategies. At stake here is the question of how, or to what extent, the film operates in progressive terms to offer a corrective to the benign meta-narrative of American history. (McCrisken and Pepper)

45) But what makes Glory very much worth watching is the performances. . . . The film’s true distinction . . . comes from a quartet of black actors, obliged to play, not merely black but also, weirder yet, white stereotypes. . . . Yet what’s good is not only individual performances, but also and especially the interaction of these four. (John Simon)

46) Although there is no record of this happening, in the film the quartermaster of the division to which the 54th belongs refuses to give boots to the black troops. . . . Clearly this incident is one of many ways the film points to the kinds of Northern racism that black soldiers faced. . . . This incident is an invention of something that could well have happened; it is an invention of truth. Robert Gould Shaw is shown practicing cavalry charges by slicing off the tops of watermelons affixed to poles. Did the historical Shaw practice this way? Does it matter? The meaning of the metaphor is obvious and apropos. (Robert Rosenstone)

47) Shohat and Stam argue that a “burden of representation” that is “at once religious, esthetic, political, and semiotic” exists whenever a marginalized or underrepresented group is portrayed in film (182), and it has a lasting impact on how people view the world and the groups that are represented, even if they know that the film’s portrayal isn’t accurate. Historical accuracy aside, an audience’s impression of a group is still shaped by how characters from the group are portrayed. Depending on the population of students and context of the viewing, these films could establish or reinforce racist notions of race, freedom, and citizenship regarding a student’s own cultural group or that of marginalized groups. In the case of representing history in film, this burden requires that members of these underrepresented groups be portrayed in a way that allows the viewer to understand their points of view, history, and language. (Stoddard and Marcus)

48) Glory does not go into detail about the impact of the battle on northern opinion, nor does it provide much political context for the black soldier issue. In fact, the movie ends with the attack on Fort Wagner, although the Fifty-fourth continued to serve throughout the war, fighting in several more battles and skirmishes. (James McPherson)

49) How could have a better film had been made of the African American Civil War experience? One answer is that the film could have focused even more on the experience of battle, rather than simply the politics of the campfire and Shaw’s bureaucratic struggles with his recalcitrant superiors. (W. Scott Poole)

50) Vicariously, Trip goes through the learning process which modern angry young blacks in the film makers’ opinion should experience: at first rejecting cooperation with white officers, Trip is admonished by responsible Sergeant Rawlins and on the eve of battle tells Shaw that despite ongoing discrimination African Americans should “ante up and kick in,” that is, contribute their part to American society. The flag Trip finally picks up becomes a symbol denotative of Trip’s acceptance of his country and his white countrymen, including white discrimination against blacks. (Heike Bungert)

51) We acknowledge that a film like Glory . . . can offer us fresh insights into little-known historical episodes. We also accept that, in so far as such films privilege particular perspectives on the past that may once have been marginalized or discounted, they can compel us to think about how history is produced, why, and for whom. It would be at best optimistic and at worst naïve, however, to assume Glory was made simply for revisionist purposes or to correct past mistakes or to radically contest the benign meta-narrative of American history. . . . Although it jettisons an old-fashioned racial politics based upon essential identities, binary divisions and stable oppositions, it then embraces …slippery racial politics . . . whereby racial differences are affirmed, tolerated, and managed. (McCrisken and Pepper)

52) For all its invention, Glory does not violate the discourse of history, what we know about the overall experience of the men in the 54th Regiment –- their military activities, their attitudes, and those of others toward them. At the same time, the film clearly adds to our understanding of the 54th Regiment through a sense of immediacy and intimacy, through emphatic feelings and that special quality of shared experience. (Robert Rosenstone)

53) Hollywood films also tend to be made for a broad general audience, so the history of the majority of this audience, traditionally white and middle class, is emphasized, and dramatic liberty is taken with the story to make it more engaging and understandable for that audience. (Stoddard and Marcus)

54) It is not literally true, as the movie’s final caption claims, that the bravery of the Fifty-fourth at Fort Wagner causes Congress to authorize more black regiments -- this happened months earlier -- the example set by the Fifty-fourth did help transform potential into policy. (James McPherson)

55) The story could have been told as what it was: an assertion of agency and humanity by black soldiers afraid neither of the white Confederates nor deterred by the clumsy paternalism of northern whites. (W. Scott Poole)

56) Glory helped pave the way for black history into the conservative mass entertainment industry of Hollywood. It shows African Americans cast as “round” characters and playing a major part in America’s history. (Heike Bungert)

57) Good historical films require us to think about the contested nature of historical “truths”; raise questions about the status of particular versions of historical accounts; compel us to critically evaluate our own responses to what appears on the screen; or at the very least give us some sense of what a particular historical moment might have looked like. On the basis of these criteria, Glory is both a success and a failure. It nominally critiques the implicit ethnocentrism of the benign meta-narrative of American history and challenges our received understandings about the significance of racial differences in Civil War America. It perhaps even encourages us to think about the relationship between racial politics, an ideology of nation, and the production of historical truths. However, Glory also works hard to contain those really divisive racial divisions and reconcile “black” and “white” characters into a quite sophisticated story of national healing in which racial differences and different historical perspectives are initially emphasized, then tolerated and then managed in a complex hierarchy of command. (McCrisken and Pepper)

58) Glory go[es] further than most traditional texts in challenging long-established historical narratives and giving voice to the history of marginalized groups, but not without some dilemmas. (Stoddard and Marcus)

59) Seemingly filled with attempts to deconstruct the white myths of dominance, the breaking of Trip actually symbolizes the continued unwillingness to make a Civil War film that not only is full of black men but is in a real sense about black men. . . . The men of the 54th Massachusetts deserve to be more than the icons of white liberal fantasy. (W. Scott Poole)

60) Critics . . . might add that in order to represent history in all its ambiguity, the film makers ought to have added a fourth character, a less privileged free Northern black; he might have pointed at the racial discrimination blacks in the North had to endure in the fields of education and job opportunities. By depicting racist white attitudes and by dwelling on Shaw’s sometimes futile efforts to understand the African-American experience, the film remains true to the climate of the 1860s. (Heike Bungert)

61) The film’s attempt to tell and shape history cannot be explained by references to Hollywood’s usual practice of subsuming reality into drama. The decision to use fictional types instead of the black members of the 54th does little to further the film’s dramatic claims. (McCrisken and Pepper)

62) There is no doubt that the film simplifies, generalizes, even stereotypes. But it proposes nothing that clashes with the “truth” of the 54th Regiment or the other black military units that fought for the Union. . . . Only the moral [of the film] may be suspect: when the bodies of the white officer and one of his black men (the angriest, the one most suspicious of whites, the one who refuses to carry the flag, the one who has been whipped by this same officer) are pitched into a ditch and fall almost in an embrace, the implication seems to be that the 54th Massachusetts Regiment and the Civil War solved the problem of race in America. (Robert Rosenstone)

63) This burden of historical representation, then, can be met in film through developing complex characters and rich personal stories that challenge traditional historical and film narratives, which have generally focused on Eurocentric history and appealed to white audiences. . . . This burden is difficult to meet as the desire for profits in Hollywood often prevails over the desire to tell the story through the eyes of all participants and not just those who are similar to the target audience. (Stoddard and Marcus)

64) When the main [black composite] characters give details about their social background, different interpretations of black life in Antebellum America can be discerned. This demonstrates that the movie at least partially fulfills Natalie Zemon Davie’s demand for ambiguities and diverse readings of reality: whereas Trip underlines the active resistance by the slaves to the barbarous system, Rawlins represents the accommodating slave, who, nevertheless, still is able to mold his own personality and hold on to communal ties. (Heike Bungert)

65) Since Shaw is the only one of the main characters who was “actually there,” the assumption must be that his voice somehow the most trustworthy or accurate. The virtual silencing of Frederick Douglass, and the decision to depict the drill sergeant as Irish rather than one of Douglas’s sons, simply reinforce the logic of this particular manoeuvre. (McCrisken and Pepper)

66) Both Glory and Amistad have many elements of fiction woven into their narratives and characters. While MacPherson praised Glory for its historical accuracy, he also noted that only one main character was based on a real person, regimental commander Robert Gould Shaw (22). In spite of the fact that there were many African American soldiers that could have been represented in the film, including two of Frederick Douglass’s sons (MacPherson), the film relied on composite characters that represented the overall population of African Americans that served in the Union Army instead of the actual demographics of the 54th Massachusetts. For example, while few of the soldiers in the 54th were ex-slaves, several characters are depicted as such in Glory to help emphasize the empowerment of slaves in fighting for their freedom. (Stoddard and Marcus)

67) It is also interesting to note that the final defeat of the 54th is not portrayed in the movie. Therefore, the film becomes “scarcely antiwar” and attempts to convey “the righteousness of the Civil War.” (Heike Bungert)

68) Watching "Glory," I had one recurring 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? I ask, not to be perverse, but because I consider this primarily a story about a black experience and do not know why it has to be seen largely through white eyes. Perhaps one answer is that the significance of the 54th was the way in which it changed white perceptions of black soldiers (changed them slowly enough, to be sure, that the Vietnam War was the first in American history in which troops were not largely segregated). "Glory" is a strong and valuable film no matter whose eyes it is seen through. But there is still, I suspect, another and quite different film to be made from this same material. (Roger Ebert)

69) This monument will stand for effort, not victory complete. What these heroic souls of the 54th regiment began, we must complete. (Booker T. Washington at the 1897 formal monument dedication, qtd. in Cullen 1995, 169)

70) It's a story of how a black regiment and its white officers challenged history, racism and the fortunes of war. (Edward Zwick, qtd. in Cullen 1995, 156)