Glory

 
Excellent Civil War movie has graphic violence, profanity.
  • Review Date: June 7, 2006
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1989
  • Running Time: 122 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Racism and prejudice are key themes; many characters' assumptions are challenged, and some are models of tolerance and acceptance. 

Positive role models

During a time when white Americans generally accepted the idea that African-Americans were an inferior race and incapable of serving with pride and dignity in the military, Robert Gould Shaw believed otherwise and fought tirelessly against a corrupt bureaucracy and reluctant military establishment to prove that his all-African-American regiment would display valor and courage in the heat of battle. The African-American soldiers who composed the 54th Massachusetts Infantry showed tremendous courage in battle, resulting in President Lincoln ordering the recruitment of many more all-African-American regiments, which he believed helped turn the tide in the Civil War. 

Violence

War violence. A soldier's head is blown off by cannon fire. Soldiers are shown firing rifles and fighting and killing with bayonets. A soldier found guilty of attempted desertion is shown being whipped on the back; when he removes his shirt, his back is covered in the scars of previous whippings from when he was a slave. During the looting of a southern town, a man strikes a woman in the face and is then shot and killed by his commanding officer. Screams of wounded soldiers in a military hospital after a major battle, including one man begging doctors not to cut him anymore. Inference of rape as a weapon of war from a corrupt military officer. 

Sex
Not applicable
Language

Use of the "N" word, as well as outdated words such as "Negro" and "colored." Occasional profanity throughout. 

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Drinking at parties. The night before a major battle, two officers drink shots of alcohol. Cigar and cigarette smoking throughout. 

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Glory is a 1989 movie about the 54th Massachusetts Regiment, the first all-African-American volunteer company to fight in the Civil War. Racism in many forms is shown here: The "N" word is used, as are dated terms such as "Negro" and "colored"; African-Americans are compared to "monkeys"; and the bitterness and frustration of a lifetime of prejudice, abuse, and slavery comes through in the speech and actions of the soldiers. There is graphic war violence: A soldier's head is blown off by cannon fire. Battles with rifles and bayonets are shown. In a military hospital, the screams of the wounded are graphic, including one soldier heard begging doctors not to cut him anymore. In one of the most memorable scenes in the movie, a soldier found guilty of attempted desertion is sentenced to be whipped in front of the entire regiment. When he removes his shirt, the whip scars from slavery are clearly seen. Overall, this movie is an unforgettable history lesson about soldiers who transcended the profound racism and ignorance of their time to find dignity, courage, valor, and self-respect when given the opportunity to prove their worth. 

What's the story?

GLORY tells the epic story of the 54th Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, the first unit of African-American 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 all are to be soldiers worthy of the name. Shaw imports a trash-talking sergeant to whip the recruits into shape. Feeling they're being treated as inferior, 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 African-American regiment gets its moment of "glory," but at a horrific cost. Their ultimate sacrifice earned the honor that opened the doors for free African-American men to serve.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

The movie is important, because, during a time when white Americans generally accepted the idea that African-Americans were an inferior race and incapable of serving with pride and dignity in the military, Robert Gould Shaw believed otherwise. He fought tirelessly against a corrupt bureaucracy and reluctant military establishment to prove that his all-African-American regiment would display valor and courage in the heat of battle. In the midst of intense racial prejudice from many in the North as well as the South -- and a lifetime of suffering the bitterness, anger, and frustration such prejudice engendered -- the African-American soldiers who composed the 54th Massachusetts Regiment overcame the false assumptions of many, resulting in President Lincoln ordering the recruitment of many more all-African-American regiments, which he believed helped turn the tide in the Civil War.

This powerful and complex movie is best for mature teens and up; it may be too intense for younger kids, even those who are Civil War buffs. Rigorous, even pitiless codes of military behavior is something worth talking about with kids, especially in military families.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the history of racism in this country. How have things changed and how have they stayed the same since the Civil War?

  • What were some of the ways in which racism and bigotry were shown in the movie? 

  • What parts of the movie seem to be an accurate reflection of what actually transpired, and what parts seem to be heightened or exaggerated for the purposes of a Hollywood movie? 

  • Families can research the reasons why the U.S. split into Union and Confederacy and clashed in battle, some of which are not covered in this film.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:December 15, 1989
DVD release date:January 20, 1998
Cast:Denzel Washington, Matthew Broderick, Morgan Freeman
Director:Edward Zwick
Studio:Columbia Tristar
Genre:Drama
Topics:Great boy role models, History
Run time:122 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:war violence, racism and mature themes.

This review of Glory was written by

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  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
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  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written bygracenick April 9, 2008
Kid, 12 years old August 3, 2011
age 13+
 

Great movie bad language

I'm a huge civil war buff and i saw this when i was ten i disagree with the rating it was boreder line R There is blood seen in a bowl( its a medic tent) and you see te siloet a an amputation and lastly the all die and one man at the begining has his head blown off by a cannon. Sexual stuff not that bad. The language is pretty bad i think thats why it got its rating of R because they use the N word alot. Over all if you're one of the more mature people that can handle tear jerkers and blood than it is amazing.
What other families should know
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Teen, 15 years old Written byCesy April 9, 2008

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