Looking Back Fondly on Glory: 20 Years Later

When their pay was cut, they also could have chosen to act differently. When they were not allowed to participate in the battles, they could have acted differently. I think somewhere along the line you began to sense from these men that they feel compelled to act out their duty as soldiers for the Union. They all have different motivations as Union soldiers. They insist on participation in the fighting to protect her, to hold her together. But they had a duty that was much stronger and much more compelling than their personal comfort, their safety, their rights, or their pain, so consequently it’s a reminder to us.

Did you feel that Glory was going to be something special while you were filming it?
I was a kid, so I didn’t see the perspective on these things. I was trying to keep my head above water professionally and personally. I was told we were breaking ground, but when you haven’t seen the ground unbroken, you don’t realize the importance of what’s going on. Today I do, but not back then.

We’ve just passed another milestone in American history with the election of the first African-American president, Barack Obama. In considering this historic moment in light of what you learned making Glory, what is your reaction to Obama’s election?

We seem to be progressing, the United States really accepting the full contribution of all of its citizens in fits and starts: two steps forward, one step back. Ideally it would have been wonderful after the Civil War to embrace our African-American citizens and to think what could have been built from the U.S. had African Americans not been used as scapegoats and terrorized for decades, centuries; then we would be so much further along as a people and as a the nation. It’s begrudgingly that we moved to the place we are now, but I think that this election might represent a pivotal change in the ability of this country to really embrace its immigrants.

Jay Wertz is the Entertainment Correspondent for World History Group’s Great History Web site, reporting on history as it relates to movies, television, and other areas of popular culture.

12 Responses

  1. Dave Ivy

    How about doing an article on 761st Tank Battalion in W W 2 and the 85th Cavalry Reconnaissance Battation in WW 2

  2. William Hale

    WHAT? Best Civil War movie of all time? Where did you come up with that claptrap?

    It was a decent movie, but it wasn’t even close to being as good as Gettysburg or Gone with the Wind, or the Red Badge of Courage.

  3. Thomas M. Dale SR.

    Glory was good, but the best?? This is the false info that keeps people uninformed and angry about the truth of the cause of the civil war. This is just like the new sign to point out the under ground railroad that didn’t exist at Point lookout!!! I enjoy your mag. most of the time, but after the headline attack on Gen. Lee and your pathetic response this month, i just don’t know. As the editor of a news letter of the Sons of confederate Vetrans, i must get information from unbiased sources. Your editorDana Shoaf tried to make a statement that would damage R.E. Lee you can’t. Many of us buy your Mag., but that may change. Gen. R.E.Lee was motivated by love of God and country and fought like hell to protect the rights of The South!!!!!!!!!!! T.M.Dale

  4. Ralph Blackwell

    Glory Was a great movie that was a real part in history long live the 54th…….RAB

  5. Charles Darnay

    Dear Mr. Hale, Robert E. Lee was a traitor to his country. Thank God the Union had a general like U.S. Grant in 1864 to ride his ass until Lee surrendered.Perhaps if Meade had chased him down after Gettysburg the war would have been over in 1863.

  6. Fred Campbell

    Dear Mr. Darnay, your comment & response to Mr. Hale concerning Gen. Robert E. Lee clearly shows your total ignorance about him. Why don’t you ask Professor Walter Williams of George-Mason University, an African-American & syndicated editorial columnist, his opinion of Gen. Lee & the Confederate States’ valiant but ultimately futile struggle for Independence..? Again, I want to emphasize that Dr. Williams is a Black Man.

  7. John Koster

    “Glory” was a superb film and a necessary film because it counteracted the crass racism of “Birth of a Nation” and the somewhat more benign racism of “Gone With The Wind” — great entaintment but awful history. Ever see “So Red The Rose.” (?) Blacks as savage primitives and Union soldiers as cowardly thieves? No thanks! “Glory” came a lot closer to the truth.

  8. Chris Hale

    Simply put (if Gen.Lee was a traiter so was George Washinton)

  9. Richard A. Krebes

    Interesting interview with a talented actor.

    In my opinion, “Glory” is a good movie thrown out of whack by a bad ending.
    They just kill all the characters off????
    Even “The Sand Pebbles” allowed one character -Candice Bergen’s- to live.
    It was as if they did not know how to end it by having Andre, Carey, Morgan, and the other characters that made it over Fort Wagner’s ramparts to simply charge along then suddenly stop to goggle at two Reb cannon crews swinging their guns about on them and then get wiped out. (Incidentally, I was confused forever about just what had happened to them due to the way they edited their deaths until I met online a re-enactor who played one of the Confederate gun crew members in that very scene and asked him just what happened!)
    What gives? Why didn’t they cut down those Johnny Rebs at those guns with a blast of rifle-musket fire and then simply fight until they had to retreat? Be last seen trudging down the beach surrounded by survivors from the other units behind them, then cut to Shaw being buired with his men afterward?

    It just doesn’t make any sense, that ending …

    If only Ron Maxwell -who admires “Glory”- had penned the script. We would have had as decisive, clear-cut, an ending as that which graces “Gettysburg” and “Gods And Generals.” Films that, I’m sorry, leave “Glory” in third place.

  10. William Hale

    To Charles Darnay,

    Please read what I wrote before opening your mouth. You are obviously ignorant of the fact that I said NOTHING about RE LEE, my comment was that while Glory was indeed a good movie, it is not even close to being the best Civil War movie of all time.


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