By Marc Bernardin
February 13, 2001 at 05:00 AM EST
Glory: Merrick Morton

Not that it happens all that often, but occasionally, a Hollywood film can do a little more than entertain. And since this is Black History Month, what better time for a two platter Glory to hit shelves and help educate people for whom black history begins and ends with King (with a bit of X thrown in)?

The true story of the 54th Massachusetts, the first African American regiment to fight in the Civil War, ”Glory” nominally stars a tense Matthew Broderick as Col. Robert Gould Shaw, a young Boston abolitionist who is tasked to train the colored soldiers for a conflict they may never get to fight, and upon whose letters the film is based.

But the film belongs to the powerhouse supporting cast — Morgan Freeman, Andre Braugher (in his first movie role), and Denzel Washington (who won an Oscar for his work here) — and to director Ed Zwick, who shed his ”thirtysomething” trappings for this journey into battlefield arcana.

The historical relevance of this story is more than evident in this set’s supplements, which boast two superb documentaries that reveal how much of the story was left out of the film, and just how noble the men of the 54th were in the face of unyielding racism and brutal oppression. More insight comes from the commentaries — one from Zwick and another from a picture in picture video track by Zwick, Freeman, and Broderick — but the magic of ”Glory” comes from the film itself. It speaks of heroism writ large, from people whom history had made small.

  • Movie
  • R
  • 122 minutes
  • Edward Zwick
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