01 July 2010
Lord! Lord! Lord!
So basically: The movie chronicles the life of Robert Gould Shaw as he led the 54th Mass Regiment from Massachusetts to Ft Wagner during the Civil War. The 54h Mass Regiment was the first - or most famous, not sure which - black regiment in U.S. history. We are introduced to a handful of Privates who are eager to fight for their freedom. However, the higher-ups in the Union army are not willing to just let this happen. Col. Shaw must fight for his Regiment's right to fight for themselves along with the essentials of every military man - including fare wages (as they have cut the 54th's wage from 13 dollars a month to 10). In a stunning portrayal of bravery, Shaw grants his Regiment the "glory" of leading the attack on Ft Wagner in the climax of the film where we are shown just how brave these men really are as they fight till their last breath.
I'm a Civil War junkie AND war movie buff, so I was really looking forward to watching this movie, but I have to admit, I didn't like this film the first time I saw it. I thought it was too clean. To be fair, I'm used to Vietnam war films which are really gritty. One of my history teachers was praising this movie and saying how good it was, so I wanted to watch it a second time, to see if I could understand the hype. It was better the second time. But the title explains why I don't like the film as much as I should; Glory, specifically glory in war. War is dirty and terrible, there is nothing glorifying about it. The illusion of glory in war is never broken in this film as the men of the 54th Mass Regiment fight for honour and glory. The rest of the film, besides the climax, is brilliantly shot, but the climatic battle fails to impress me.
Despite all I've said, it does deserve the "prestige." It is a very good film other than the last battle as Shaw struggles to gain equality for his equally able Regiment.
Ziggi seal of approval!