Customer Review

75 of 85 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GLORY ... Hallelujah!, December 20, 1999
This review is from: Glory (DVD)
Here's one of those rare movies that succeeds as both a sweeping, visually sumptuous historical epic AND an intimate, character-driven personal drama. This fact-based account of the first black regiment to fight for the Union in the Civil War is filled with scenes of grand pageantry: the bloody battle at Antietam Creek; the first assembly of the 54th Regiment; the proud parade of the finally-trained and uniformed soldiers; the climactic attack on Fort Wagner. And yet despite these heart-pounding, majestic sequences, the film at no time loses its focus on the individual characters whose stories provide an emotional connection to the action. The performances of the once-in-a-lifetime cast are uniformly superb: Matthew Broderick, Morgan Freeman, and Andre Braugher are all at the top of their game, and Denzel Washington (who deservedly won the Supporting Actor Oscar) is amazing, especially in the scene in which he undergoes a bitterly harsh punishment. The dozens of emotions that flicker across Washington's face in that sequence, wordlessly conveying his character's essence, represent a powerful economy of acting that is rarely achieved in any medium.

Happily, the DVD transfer of this cinematic masterpiece is exceptional. The Oscar-winning Cinematography and Sound are beautifully showcased, putting the viewer right in the middle of the story. (You'll understand Francis Scott Key's line about "the rockets' red glare" on a level you never before imagined!) And James Horner's soaring, elegant musical score is a revelation. This absorbing film makes for a phenomenal DVD experience!
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BLU-RAY UPDATE: My original review was based on the first, single-disc DVD edition of "Glory". At the time, I lamented the lack of special bonus features that I felt would have enhanced viewers' understanding and enjoyment of the film. A few years later, a 2 Disc DVD of the film was released, which contained a wealth of bonus materials. I upgraded, and was very happy with the 2 disc edition.

I recently upgraded again, to the 2009 Sony Blu-Ray release, and am happy to report that the film looks and sounds better than ever. Comparing it to the previous Laser-Disc and DVD editions, I can honestly say that the Blu-Ray package is worth the additional expense, if you're as big a fan of the movie as I am. Several of the bonus features from the 2-Disc Special Edition DVD have been retained, and there's also an impressive Virtual Civil War Interactive Battlefield Map exclusive to the Blu-Ray. Very highly recommended!
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