Imagine a film about the first all-black volunteer company in the American Civil War, run by a black director, written by a black writer, based on the letters of the real-life black company members from the time.
WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS
Imagine a film that shows for the first time the authentic voice of the black soldiers, a film that effortlessly combines historical accuracy, structural artistry, and the messiness of real life and war. Imagine that this film – unexpectedly, but what a wonderful surprise – manages to fit in something of the untold stories of the wives and families of these black volunteers.
Review continues below...
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Imagine that the soldiers’ stories are shown honestly, warts and all, with no ego-acting or showboating. Imagine that just for once in the film, the often repeated story of the white commanders is sidelined and the untold stories of the black soldiers are allowed to be the sole focus. Imagine that the large scale messy politics of race and war drive the events of this film in an authentically brutal way.
If you like the sound of this imaginary film, stay clear of Edward Zwick’s Glory, as it contains none of these things. Still, I’m sure they all meant well.
Personal Score: 3/10
This is part of a series of film reviews where I give my comments on IMDB Top 250 films as a writer. The idea is that over time these posts will build into a wide-ranging writing resource.
For more details about the approach I've taken, including some important points about its strengths and weaknesses (I make no claims about my abilities as a film critic or even the accuracy of my comments... but I do stand by the value of a writer's notes on interesting films), see my introductory post here.