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Site created 12/15/97.


review added: 2/14/98
(updated 2/23/01)




Glory

review by Bill Hunt and Brian Ford Sullivan of The Digital Bits


Glory: Special Edition

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs


Glory
Special Edition - 1989 (2001) Columbia TriStar

Film Rating: A

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B/A/B-

Specs and Features:

Disc One: Widescreen
122 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced, single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch ?), double Amaray keep case packaging, audio commentary by director Edward Zwick, picture-in-picture video commentary by Matthew Broderick, Morgan Freeman and director Edward Zwick, scene access (28 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1), French (DD 2.0 surround), subtitles: English, French and Spanish, Close Captioned

Disc Two: Full Frame
122 mins, R, full frame (1.33:1), single-sided, dual-layered (no layer switch), The Voices of Glory featurette, The True Nature of Glory Continues documentary, original promotional featurette, 2 deleted scenes with optional commentary by director Edward Zwick, talent files, production notes, 2 theatrical trailers, additional trailers (for Devil in a Blue Dress and A Soldier's Story), scene access (28 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1), French (DD 2.0 surround), subtitles: English, French and Spanish, Close Captioned



Glory

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs


Glory
1989 (1997) Columbia TriStar

Film Rating: A

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B/A/C

Specs and Features:

122 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced, full frame, dual-sided, single-layered, Amaray keep case packaging, theatrical trailer, film-themed menu screens, scene access (34 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1 & 2.0 surround), Spanish and French (DD 2.0 surround), subtitles: English, French and Spanish, Close Captioned



Editor's Note: This review has been updated to include information on Columbia TriStar's new special edition DVD version of Glory.

Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington, Morgan Freeman and Cary Elwes (The Princess Bride) star in this powerful and inspiring film about America's first unit of black soldiers during the Civil War. Broderick gives a solid performance as Colonel Robert Shaw, a young Northerner who fights social prejudice and his own self-doubts to lead the Regiment. Freeman is excellent as a former grave digger who bridges the gap between Shaw and his men. And Denzel Washington won the 1989 Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his portrayal of a bitter runaway slave, who initially enlists to find an outlet for his anger, but who gradually gains something more... the respect and camaraderie of his fellow soldiers.

Based in part on the actual letters of the real Col. Shaw, Glory is directed deftly by Edward Zwick (of TV's thirtysomething) and written by Kevin Jarre. The film also features Oscar-winning cinematography by Freddie Francis and a moving score by James Horner (Titanic, Braveheart, Apollo 13).

Two different versions of Glory have been released on DVD by Columbia TriStar. We'll start with the original, movie-only disc, which was one of the studio's first titles on the format. The image quality of the DVD is generally very good. Occasionally, the color and image detail suffer slightly as a result of the profuse smoke that often fills the frame (which MPEG-2 can have difficulty encoding). But color is rich and accurate and contrast is excellent, with deep and detailed blacks. This is a very nice image. Note that the disc is enhanced for widescreen anamorphic-capable displays on Side A, and a full screen, "pan & scan" version is also provided on Side B.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack has very good depth, and makes excellent use of the surround channels during battle scenes. The 2.0 surround track also performs admirably. Audio is also provided in French and Spanish. The disc was one of Columbia TriStar's first to use graphic menus enhanced with film artwork, but only includes a full screen theatrical trailer as an extra (although picture quality is muddy).

Columbia TriStar has also released a new, two-disc special edition version of the film. This set features the same video transfers as the original release, both the anamorphic widescreen version (on Disc One) and the full screen, "pan & scan" version (which is on Disc Two). But Disc One also includes two commentary tracks. The first is a "picture-in-picture" video commentary edited from separately recorded sessions of Matthew Broderick, Morgan Freeman and director Edward Zwick. Throughout the film, a small video box appears in the corner of the image, with one of the three participants commenting on the action on-screen. The effect works well but, surprisingly, this track is still somewhat disappointing, particularly in the case of Freeman, who spends more time talking about the cultural effects of the film that the film itself. More interesting are Broderick and Zwick, who focus on discussing historical accuracy (you'd be surprised how true to real life the film is) and the dedication of those involved to keep in accurate. The second track is a more standard audio commentary with Zwick himself, which is just an unedited version of Zwick's portions of the video commentary (so there's only about an hour of new material to listen to).

Over on Disc Two, you get the majority of the bonus material, in addition to the full frame version. There's a little over an hour's worth of featurettes and documentaries. The chief draw here is Ben Burtt's 1991, The True Nature of Glory Continues, about the real life "Glory" regiment. It's narrated by Morgan Freeman. I have to say that I was disappointed here too, as the piece comes across as a bit high schoolish and seems to drag in parts. Regardless, history buffs should be quite interested in it. I found myself more intrigued by The Voices of Glory, a 10-minute featurette that boasts readings of the actual letters members of the real 54th wrote to local newspapers about their experiences. There's some nice voice work done here by actors Richard T. Jones (Judging Amy) and Sean Patrick Thomas (Save the Last Dance). Both the documentary and the featurette have high production values, and often look and sound better than the film itself. The original 1989, EPK-style production featurette, which runs about six minutes, is included here as well. Also on Disc Two are a pair of deleted scenes with optional commentary by Zwick. Unfortunately, Zwick's commentary alludes to quite a bit more omitted footage that isn't available here. Rounding out the disc are a pair of trailers for this film, as well as trailers for two other Columbia titles featuring actor Denzel Washington (A Soldier's Story and Devil in a Blue Dress) and the usual talent files and production notes.

For a film that dwells so much with historical accuracy, I'm surprised that more material on the actual production isn't presented here. It would also have been nice to have James Horner's memorable score on an isolated track (although I'm sure legal or rights issues disallowed it). Still, Glory is a great film and the new DVD version is, at least, a good effort. If you already own the original DVD, you'll have to decide if the extra supplementary material justifies the upgrade. But if you're a fan, the decision should be an easy one.

Bill Hunt
billhunt@thedigitalbits.com

Brian Ford Sullivan
bfsullivan@thedigitalbits.com


Glory: Special Edition


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