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(Column) Rice: Just Another Gal from Casper: What I’m watching…’Glory’

Kate Rice


One Friday night in the spring of 1990, a friend and I headed to the theatre to see 1989’s Glory. We arrived just a minute or two late — which landed us right in the middle of the battle of Antietam as we searched for seats.

I don’t know if that’s why I was drawn into the action from the start, or if it’s simply because it’s an award-winning film with an amazing cast, script, score, cinematography — an incredible movie. So incredible, I saw it five times in the theatre over the next week.

Black History Month seems the perfect time to re-watch Glory. Based on historical figures and events, Glory tells the story of the first all African-American regiment during the Civil War, the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. Led by a young Colonel — Robert Gould Shaw, the son of abolitionists — the movie follows the men from training through their first skirmishes, climaxing with a massive assault on Fort Wagoner. 

Some of the men are free, some escaped slaves. All are determined to do their part in obtaining their freedom.

I’ll admit, back in the day I was enthralled by the plight of Robert himself, a man too young to bear the burdens of command. But this month especially, it’s the men themselves, both the characters and the actors who portray them, who deserve the spotlight. 

Morgan Freeman’s Sgt. Major John Rawlins — fighter, father figure, peacemaker. Denzel Washington’s Private Trip, who battles his own (understandable) anger issues as well as the Confederates, and who gives voice to the soldiers’ realities vs. ideals. Andre Braugher as Corporal Thomas Searles, Robert’s childhood friend whose genteel upbringing means he works twice as hard as the rest of the men to learn what it takes to be a soldier. 

Glory is a movie about war, about prejudice, and what happens when the soldiers are given the opportunity to, as stated by Sgt. Major Rawlins during an impassioned speech directed toward Private Trip, “ante up and kick in like men.”  

That’s oversimplifying this powerful story, but if you’re looking for thought-provoking material with rich characters, tense battle sequences, superb acting and bits of history, search Glory’s streaming options or make this movie part of  your collection on DVD or Blu-Ray.