"Glory" Film Review


The issue of tolerance has been one of the most important throughout the whole history of the mankind. There have been various reasons for manifesting intolerance, such as differences in social class, political and religious beliefs, gender and evenly color of skin. The problem of intolerance towards people looked or behaved differently has caused a lot of trouble for the whole humankind and provoked other issues that endangered the development of human society.

Due to historical events, one of the most common issues is discrimination based on the color of skin. This problem has existed for the whole human history and continues to be topical nowadays. The reason for showing intolerance based on the color of skin must be caused by subconscious needs to identify friends and foes. It is in human nature to see people who do not look similar to them as foes and the color of skin is the easiest external feature to spot. This reason for intolerance has been causing such consequences as beating, humiliation, various displays of sadistic behavior and evenly full scale armed conflicts for hundreds and thousands of years.

The intolerance based on the color of skin has been a very painful issue in the history of America, especially in the 18th-19th centuries. It is important to remember that up to the 18th century the majority of African Americans in the USA were slaves, who were used by their masters to do the hardest and the least pleasant work and who were treated not better than animals. By the end of the 18th century the practice of slavery was abandoned in the Northern states but continued to exist in the Southern ones. Such social distress has led to the beginning of the American Civil War in the 1861 between the Confederacy of the South and the Union of the North. The war lasted for 4 years and ended in 1865 with the victory of the Union, therefore, the Confederacy collapsed and slavery was abolished (McPherson, 2014).

The movie Glory (1989) filmed by Edward Zwick sheds light on the struggle of African Americans for their rights and freedom during the American Civil War. The movie itself is centered on the issue of the American Civil War and gives a good example of how simple people who just threw off the shackles of slavery fought for the lives and dignity of all African Americans. It also clearly depicts the contribution to this fight of honest and decent people with the white color of skin.

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The main characters of the film are Colonel Robert Shaw, Sergeant Major John Rawlins and Private Trip. Robert Shaw is a military officer who was injured in the Battle of Antietam and was sent home on medical leave. There he is offered a promotion to the rank of Colonel to command the first black regiment in the history of the American army. Colonel Shaw is a man of great dignity and honor, a true patriot and a tough but fair commander. He strives to support his African American soldiers in all the ways he can. As an example, there is an episode where Shaw tears his pay stub in solidarity with his soldiers when the government decides to pay them less than white soldiers. There is also a scene where Colonel Shaw confronts the base’s racist quartermaster in order to get appropriate supplies for his troops. It shows that there are always people who are sympathetic to the fight of others for their rights and dignity; it also dissipates the myth that white people do not care about the well-being of African Americans.

Sergeant Major John Rawlins is shown in the movie as the voice of reason and the buffer between African American soldiers and their white superiors. He inspires the troops and gains their deepest respect. As a result, he is promoted to the rank of Sergeant Major in recognition of his leadership among common soldiers. During the movie he addresses the superior officers on behalf of the troops about the pressing needs such as appropriate regular supplies. The character of John Rawlins shows that there is always an adequate and efficient way to solve any misunderstanding or problem between different groups of people in case there is a mutual desire to do so. This personage also dissipates the myth that there can be no true understanding between white and African American people.

Private Trip represents the controversy in views on the problems of fighting for rights of freedom among the African Americans themselves. He is an escaped slave who does not truly believe in the intentions of his white superiors and doubt their motives but at the same time he is ready to fight for the mere hope for a better life and equality between people of all races. He is a troublemaker that eventually finds the will and strength to fight till the very end for his beliefs.


The movie ends on a tragic note when the troops of Colonel Shaw assault Fort Wagner. The scene of the battle shows the heroics of simple African American soldiers and their will to fight till the very end. Unfortunately, the attack on the fort fails and the soldiers of the 54th get killed and then buried in a mass grave, officers and common soldiers alike, finally united in death. The closing narration shows that the sacrifice of these brave men was not in vain because after the battle the Union army accepted thousands of African Americans into their ranks. Their forces turned the tide of the war and allowed the Union to achieve victory.

The movie Glory raises many questions and provides as many answers. It shows that some prejudice and habits like intolerance and racism are very hard to overcome but there are always people on both sides who are ready to fight for justice and equality. The humankind can enter the age of peace and prosperity only when there is no more intolerance based on ridiculous reasons such as color of skin. Therefore, it is necessary to overcome these problems as fast as possible.

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