GLORY  (1989)
Sound Bites

Now I feel ready to die, for I see you are willing to give your support to the cause of truth that is lying crushed and bleeding.  (Sarah Blake Sturgis Shaw in a letter to her son, qtd. in Kirstein 1973)

I want you to prove yourselves.  The eyes of thousands will look on what you do tonight.  (Colonel Robert Gould Shaw to his regiment, according to what "one remembered," qtd. in Burchard 1965)

The deprivations, unfair treatment received and single-minded persistent devotion of heroism of these soldiers would be difficult to exaggerate.  It is certain that the heroism of Robert Gould Shaw and the enlisted men of the Fifty-Fourth Regiment was the principal rallying point for black participation in the war as free men fighting slavery.  The subsequent history of the Fifty-Fourth Regiment, fighting on through the war, and the contribution of other black regiments in a national history often dominated by shameful event form an episode that gives cause for pride.  (Kirstein 1973, III)

The impression of these old soldiers passing the very spot where they left for the war so many years before, thrills me even as I write these words [ca. 1905].  They seemed as if returning from the war, the troops of bronze marching in the opposite direction--the direction in which they left for the front, the young men in the bas-relief showing these veterans the hope and vigor of youth....It was a consecration.  (Saint-Gaudens, at the unveiling of his monument on May 31, 1897, as qtd. in Kirstein 1973, VI)

Right in the van,
On the red rampart's slippery swell,
With heart that beat a charge, he fell
Foeward, as fits a man;
But the high soul burns on to light men's feet
Where death for noble ends makes dying sweet.
(James Russell Lowell, Memoriae Positum of R.G. Shaw, 1863, qtd. in Burchard 1965)

  ...everything softened and made unreal by distance, poor little Robert Shaw erected into a great symbol of deeper things than he ever realized himself.  (William James to Henry James, Jr. in a 5 June 1897 letter, qtd. in Duncan 1992)

One hopes one is not making a quaint historical pageant.  You are making drama that you hope has contemporary elements.  Pop culture's all about iconography.  These men, these faces in uniform, is finally the iconography this movie presents.  If there's a certain degree of liberal fantasy in that, well, so be it.  (Edward Zwick, qtd. in Cullen 1995, 141)

Sometimes facts are the enemy of drama.  (Edward Zwick to Matthew Broderick, qtd. in Picture-in-Picture Video Commentary from Glory DVD)

I think that the proposition to make soldiers of the slaves is the most pernicious idea that has been suggested since the war began.  You cannot make soldiers of slaves, or slaves of soldiers.  The day you make a soldier of them is the beginning of the end of the revolution.  And if slaves seem good soldiers, then our whole theory of slavery is wrong.  (Former U.S. Senator and Confederate General Howell Cobb of Georgia, as qtd. in McPherson Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era 1988, 835)

It is hugely difficult in any society, black or white, to come up with legitimate heroes.  (Edward Zwick, qtd. in Cullen 1995, 153)

Heroic or otherwise, in no major Civil War movie since World War II has race played any major role, with the exception of Glory.  Thus the film is notable not only in being the first Hollywood film in years to return to a war that had a bad cinematic reputation, but also in focusing on race, a cinematic theme with a troubled -- and often conspicuously silent -- history.  (Cullen 1995, 155)

It's a story of how a black regiment and its white officers challenged history, racism and the fortunes of war.  (Edward Zwick, qtd. in Cullen 1995, 156)

I don't have a problem with that.  You cannot reasonably ask a white writer to do it differently.  Now, if we're going to start citing some unfortunates, it might be unfortunate that a black writer didn't write it, but if a black writer had written it, there's a good chance he wouldn't have found a producer.  So there you are.  This is a movie that did get made, and a story that did get told, and that's what is important.  (Morgan Freeman's response to critic Roger Ebert's charge that the movie focuses too much on the white point of view, qtd. in Cullen 1995, 166)

Considering his position at the head of the assault, it was miraculous that he even reached the Rebel works.  (Glathaar 1990, 139)

This monument will stand for effort, not victory complete.  What these heroic souls of the 54th regiment began, we must complete.  (Booker T. Washington at the 1897 formal monument dedication, qtd. in  Cullen 1995, 169)

Glory, then, is not simply a movie that portrays a cause worth dying for.  It is also a movie that portrays a cause worth killing for, which makes it more complicated.  It suggests a yearning for moral, collective commitments in the twilight of the Reagan era.  At the same time, it evokes a militant fervor that has often been distorted and exploited by unscrupulous leaders and careless voters.  This is the risk a free society takes, and it is hard to see how it can be avoided.  (Cullen 1995, 171)

It's [Glory]dealing with an issue that hasn't really been explored on film.  I think the statements it has to make will be important ones.  (Cary Elwes, qtd. in Original Featurette of the Glory DVD 1989)

It's important for the young people of America to know what it's [Glory] all about and still be entertained by it.  (Glory Executive Producer, Freddie Fields, qtd. in Original Featurette of the Glory DVD 1989)
 
 

Copyright (c) 2003, Todd Scurci and Denny Boyle, Undergraduates at Lehigh University.

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