The American Film, Glory of 1989, is based on the actual historical story, of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, seen through the eyes of the commanding officer Gould Shaw who was a white officer during the American Civil War. The story is told by Kevin Jarre the author of Glory who was walking in Boston and came across a Civil war memorial, and this became the inspiration forGlory. The war was characterized by both white and black soldiers.
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The officers were the white while the African Americans were the soldiers. The central theme as I observed in the film is racism and discrimination and biases attitude from the whites towards their fellow black soldiers. Amongst these officers, Colonel Shaw was unlike his fellows who were racist and devoted most of the time training the African-Americans how to fight restlessly in the civil war. The blacks were more than determined to fight for their country and more so against injustices. The whites doubted or didn’t believe in the blacks making good soldiers or submitting to the discipline of the war, but the likes of Fredrick Douglas believed in the chance of winning for the black regiment. The Glory therefore openly exposed different and multiple aspects of civil war as it occurred. It displayed the cruel realities that the soldiers went through during the war. The film also revealed how man to man fights was brutal and barbaric as practiced during the civil war. For instance, the 54th exposed one of the bloodiest action in the war which was an uphill attack in a muddy terrain running against a Confederate fort in Charleston. This attack was somewhat suicidal having the battlefield strategies involving the black troops being disciplined by matching into the contemptuous fire. The 54th soldier remained strong enough as well as disciplined till the end of civil war. In my opinion, the purpose of Glory was to expose the victory and courage of the soldiers in the war who fought against racism, prejudice and discrimination and later achieved their goals. Although the back regiment was unskilled, they gave their best to provide the Norths with a victory on proving to be real heroes.
Watching “Glory”, I am convinced that the director Edward Zwick, brings outs a lot of lessons that we can draw from the movie. It gives a clear historical description of the experience of the soldiers in the war. Racism had been a real challenge that the blacks faced, and he brings out this aspect in the film. For instance, there was a decision that was made to pay the blacks less than the whites. They were not believed to be good enough to fight in the civil war, and more so the civil war was against slavery in the south where the blacks had been enslaved. Therefore the black soldiers through the help of Shaw, they gave the best, they fought, bleed and died as they fought against these forms of discrimination. It is also clear that as much as racism was intense a few like Shaw were ready to the unit with the blacks to end slavery which I believe is one its strength. Glory therefore brings out a clear experience of the civil war. It displays the courage the soldiers had to win the fights despite dealing with prejudice from their fellow white soldiers. The zeal Gould had as a commander to help the black soldiers gets to question why they were much different in the relationship between the soldiers and the difference in how the slaves were treated. Was the slavery and racism attitude intense only in the southern region? Ironically, the northern abolitionists were antislavery, but the film does not consider the blacks as equal to the whites through the way they were treated in the film which I believe is a weakness. In my opinion, the movie unfolds the true historical experiences during slavery because the southern economy was highly based on cotton and the political leaders were therefore against antislavery as they needed cheap labor that could only be provided by the blacks. They, thus, had to fight their way through this prejudices as shown by the 54th regiment. They had been considered inferior. The film as it was experienced by the blacks projected the fact that the blacks had to be paid less and also did not deserve to be trained in the war. Though Shaw was biased towards the blacks, with time he relied on the blacks were no different from them and offered them full support to get admiration and glory.
Watching Glory, I am left with the mixed feeling, why because the story is primarily about the blacks, but their top leader or officer is a white. We had to see the blacks through the 54th white commanding officer and not the other way. Well, I believe the reason to these could be because the whites were considered the superior race against the blacks or could the blacks be in a land that is not theirs? Were their zeal self-determined or the commander instilled the enthusiasm in them? In my opinion, it bothered me that being a film centering their focus on the black regime then, the blacks should have been the leading actor and more so as a commander. Again, I wonder could that be possible if the blacks did not know how to fight and needed training. This makes me conclude that the purpose of the 54th was to indicate and show the public that slavery and civil war was a black’s journey to fight. Sadly, the fact is, the blacks only saw themselves in the eyes of the white, and since the blacks were the ones just suffering under the white regime, then the perception of the whites towards the black is what had to change, for slavery, racism and other forms of prejudice to change. Having the director giving the movie in a more focus of the blacks but seeing it through the eyes of the white, I think he could have given us a different view like white seeing the blacks through their(black) eyes and this also proved to be a weakness.
Compared to other war films, Glory brings out the other aspects apart from war and training like comradeship and togetherness, courage and the zeal to achieve goals without giving up. It is one of the best films that shows a true history of the civil war as given in the books. It instils a change in the minds of the public on their views towards the black as equal members of the society. “Glory” therefore is one of the strongest movies and a valuable movie in giving a clear description and understanding the experiences of the civil war.
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