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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Glory: Special Edition
Glory: Special Edition
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Review by Aaron Beierle | posted January 29, 2001 | E-mail the Author
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Highly Recommended
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The Movie:

A stunning and often powerful first major effort from director Edward Zwick, "Glory" tells the story of the 54th Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, a group of soldiers made up of slaves who were freed or escaped and lead by Robert Shaw(Matthew Broderick) into the Civil War. The letters of Shaw were the inspiration for the movie.

The story begins with Shaw returning home from a particularly bloody battle, weary and terrified of the horrors that he has just witnessed. Soon after coming home, he is notified that he has been put under control of a regiment of African-American troops. With his second in command (Cary Elwes), he begins to train the soldiers for battle and learn more about them, as well, changing his way of thinking.

Lead by Trip (Denzel Washington) and John Rawlins(Morgan Freeman), the group become stronger soldiers, but must still face the prejudices of the army as they have to fight to get paid the same and struggle to get proper uniforms and shoes. Eventually, the group sees battle, although with tragic results.

Technically, "Glory" is superb. War buffs helped out with some of the battle sequences, Freddie Farmer("The Straight Story") contributes marvelous cinematography and although one might argue that James Horner's score is easily one of the best he's done in recent years, as well. There's also fine detail to the uniforms and sets. Otherwise, the film also is excellent. Performances from Washington, Freeman and Broderick are first-rate, as is the supporting performance from Cary Elwes. Washington has worked again with Zwick on "The Siege" and "Courage Under Fire". I still think his performance in "Courage" is one of his very best, and he's great here, as well.

While I'm not sure if I would consider "Glory" the best of the war film genre, I think it certainly has its place among some of the finest.


VIDEO: Although this was one of the early titles from Columbia/Tristar, it still holds up very, very well in comparison to some of their more recent efforts. Sharpness is generally very good, although there are some scenes occasionally in the film that look slightly soft, but still crisp and well-defined. Dimly lit and dark scenes as well as the occasional smoky scene are all handled well.

Aside from the slight softness at times, problems don't come in the form of pixelation or shimmering, but just the occasional slight print flaw. Some minor speckles are visible at times, but there is certainly nothing major or distracting. Colors still look fine as well, natural and beautiful in some of the outdoor scenes.

Overall a solid presentation with only a few very minor complaints. A pan& scan edition is included on the second disc.

SOUND: Director Edward Zwick has always seemingly had remarkable sound in his pictures, whether it be "The Siege", "Legends Of The Fall" or especially "Courage Under Fire". Although as "Glory" is now 12 years old, the Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation still manages to impress greatly during the more intense battle sequences. During the quieter sequences, the audio stays more towards the front, focusing on dialogue and James Horner's score.

During the battle sequences, surrounds open up with the sounds of war and bass is powerful as the chaos becomes heavy. These sounds remained clear and defined throughout all of the more agressive sequences. The Horner score generally sounds very good, if the slightest bit thin at times. Dialogue also occasionally varies, sounding a little bit flat at times, but generally clear and natural. This may not be a consistently stunning presentation, but for a movie from 1989, it is remarkable. The film did also win Best Sound at the Oscars that year.

MENUS:: When Tristar provides animated main menus, they really do a fine job. Although not all of the menus provide animated touches, the clip that leads into the main menu with voices and images from the film is a haunting and effective way of introducing the DVD. There's also some nice transitions between menus.


Video Commentary: As a studio who has often done very innovative features with commentary tracks (see the video commentary for "Men In Black" and "Ghostbusters"), here they actually give the viewer the ability to see the person chatting in a small box at the bottom of the screen. This was done for Universal's "Mallrats" special edition (certainly a very different film!), but in a more limited fashion. Here, we get comments from director Ed Zwick as well as actors Matthew Broderick and Morgan Freeman. The participants seem to have been recorded separately, as only one is visible in each small pop-up screen at a time. Still, the commentary is screen-specific as the participants do point out details about the details of what is currently going on on-screen. Broderick provides a very interesting discussion about the production and what he went through during filming. Freeman also has a lot of stories about the set to discuss as well, although he also brings a lot of fascinating insight and discussion about the history shown in the movie. Zwick doesn't talk quite as much during this track, although he also has his own commentary, which I will discuss later.

Certainly, it likely took a great deal of effort to film and work out the presentation of this video commentary. Although it does have some noticable pauses of silence throughout the film, the video boxes with discussion from the three do still consistently appear throughout the film. This video commentary can not be switched to with the remote, it can only be selected to be watched on it's own via the menu, and also, if you watch the commentary with this version, the picture is not anamorphic; if you watch the other edition without video commentary, the movie is anamorphic. The video commentary is also only available on disc one.

Audio Commentary: This is an audio commentary from director Edward Zwick, who has been quite busy providing audio tracks for his previous works, having done commentaries recently for both "Courage Under Fire" and "Legends Of The Fall". Although the video commentary is a neat additional feature, here Zwick has the track to himself and talks in greater detail about the details that went into the making of "Glory". He talks in great detail about trying to stage the battle sequences, as well as working with the actors and trying to overcome some of the obstacles that the production came across.

Zwick's commentary for "Courage Under Fire" started off strong, but began to wear out as the film's second half started. His commentary with Brad Pitt for "Legends Of The Fall" worked a bit better, and I thought maybe he needed a person to discuss with. But, for "Glory"'s track he is capable of providing a very good full-length commentary. With all of the historical details and production facts, his discussion is stronger here and provides less in the way of pauses. He has a lot of insights and thoughts about the story that are quite interesting to listen to, and overall, I felt it was a very good commentary. Although the video commentary is only available on disc one, Zwick's audio commentary is available on both discs.

The True Story Of Glory Continues(On Disc 2): This is a 45 minute documentary, narrated by Morgan Freeman, that takes the viewer through the entire history behind the film. It's a very well-done and informative feature, most certainly worth a look to learn more about what really happened.

Theatrical Trailers(On Disc 2): Trailers for "Glory", "A Soldier's Story" and "Devil In A Blue Dress".

Deleted Scenes(On Disc 2): 2 deleted scenes are provided. Zwick's optional commentary provides a lot of insight about why the scenes were cut as well as his feelings about taking out scenes in general. One scene is interesting to watch; the other isn't as good, and Zwick talks about what he thinks may have gone wrong.

Exclusive Featurette: "Voices Of Glory"(on disc 2): A further look at the history behind the movie, there is interviews with a historian that discuss the details of the group the film centers on. Letters from the actual group that talk about their thoughts and feelings are also read throughout. This is an 11 minute documentary.

Original Featurette(on disc 2): This is the film's original promotional featurette. Although not terribly in-depth, it is less promotional and more informative than a lot of the usual featurettes that are shown today. Certainly worth a look.

Also(on disc 2): Talent files and production notes.

Final Thoughts: An excellent film that recieves a fine presentation from Columbia/Tristar. Very good audio/video quality and a solid helping of high-quality extra features on this 2 DVD set. Highly Recommended.

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