Glory

As a secondary source Glory certainly has some issues, especially with smaller details, and even some not so small details (shouldn’t the recruits of the 54th Regiment have been mostly free blacks?), but overall the movie depicts a fair representation of the Northern opinions towards blacks, as well as blacks’ opinions of themselves. I think the movie does a better job than Amistad in showing a larger historical context. Amistad seemed to suggest the case was an important cause of the Civil War and a great step in abolition, which is simply not true. In Glory, the black regiments help to change Northern views toward the black race and help to give the blacks a sense of self-respect and confidence, which is a fairly accurate account. Also, the battle scenes are well done. They were filmed with the help of actual Civil War re-enactors, which supports the accuracy of the battles.

As a primary source of the time when Glory was made, it is quite clear that Hollywood was out of its romanticizing of slavery and the Old South period. The movie portrays slavery as bad, plain and simple, but it does tend to play up Northern goodness to a degree, especially with Shaw. Then again, Shaw’s goodness has been played up in real life. It’s important to note that the movie also shows Northerners who are nasty to the blacks. Even Shaw has some moral ambiguity, like when he allows Trip to be whipped. I think Glory shows the generally accepted and more accurate view of slavery and Civil War that replaced the old ideas of benevolent white masters with loyal slaves. Of course, there will probably always be people who want to believe that history…

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