What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that there is graphic war violence here; all the bloody killings may be too much for many tweens and some teens. Know your kid. Also, the movie deals with racism and other mature themes. Note: most of the soldiers here die in service.
What's the story?
GLORY tells the epic story of the 54th Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, the first unit of black troops that fought in the American Civil War. Progressive-minded Col. Robert Gould Shaw (Matthew Broderick) is their leader. Shaw's college friend Thomas Searles (Andre Braugher), a free-born African-American, eagerly joins the regiment, but most of the soldiers are proud but illiterate ex-slaves, some consumed with hatred toward the South. Troublemaker Trip (Denzel Washington) and the other blacks are kept in line, barely, by John Rawlins (Morgan Freeman) who understands the need for obedience if they are all to be soldiers worthy of the name. Shaw imports a trash-talking sergeant to whip the recruits into shape. Feeling they're are being treated as inferior troops, ill-equipped and destined for only boring, non-combat missions, Shaw demands the 54th be allowed to prove themselves in battle. Finally, in an assault on a well-defended Confederate fortress, the black regiment gets their moment of "glory," but at a horrific cost. Their ultimate sacrifice earned the honor that opened the doors for free black men to serve.
Is it any good?
This powerful and complex movie is best for mature teens and up; it may be too intense for younger kids. Rigorous, even pitiless codes of military behavior is something worth talking about with kids, especially in military families (the topic actually took up most of Robert Heinlein's novel "Starship Troopers," something that never made it to the big-screen version of the sci-fi tale).
In Glory, Trip straightens out and Rawlins (like Shaw, an actual historical figure) becomes America's first black officer. The noble ideals behind the 54th stand out when Shaw and the 54th meet another so-called black Union regiment in the field; it turns out to be a drunken mob encouraged by their corrupt commander to pillage and rape in already-defeated Southern territories.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the history of racism in this country. Families can also research the complex reasons why the US split into Union and Confederacy and clashed in battle, which are not covered in this film.