AFI Movie Club: GLORY – American Film Institute
GLORY Film Still - Denzel Washington


AFI Movie Club: GLORY

GLORY, the powerful tale of the Union Army’s first African American regiment in the Civil War, was directed by AFI Conservatory alum Edward Zwick (AFI Class of 1975) and stars two AFI Life Achievement Award recipients – Denzel Washington and Morgan Freeman. 


DID YOU KNOW? To convince TriStar of the project’s viability, director Edward Zwick filmed a re-enactment of the Battle of Gettysburg in Gettysburg, PA, and used the footage to create a nine-minute presentation for the studio. This re-enactment footage was used in the completed film to depict the Battle of Antietam. 

DID YOU KNOW? Producer Freddie Fields personally spent $1 million of his own money to get GLORY made. 

DID YOU KNOW? GLORY opened on a platform release in three theaters in New York, Los Angeles and Toronto, and took in the highest per-screen average of any film in its opening weekend, grossing $21,220 per screen. 

DID YOU KNOW? To be as historically accurate as possible, the production used Robert Gould Shaw’s own silver candlesticks as props, and military uniforms were painstakingly researched and executedeven the unseen underside of Matthew Broderick’s cap was “dyed the perfect Massachusetts medium green.” 

DID YOU KNOW? GLORY marked actor Andre Braugher’s big screen debut. He plays Corporal Thomas Searles in the film. 

DID YOU KNOW? Denzel Washington received an Oscar® for Best Supporting Actor, as well as a Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture. GLORY also won Academy Awards® for Best Cinematography and Sound.  

DID YOU KNOW? The basrelief sculpture in the credits is the Robert Gould Shaw and 54th Regiment Memorial in Boston Common, by Augustus Saint-Gaudens. It’s located on the Common, on the left side of the steps leading up to the Beacon Street entrance of the gold domed Massachusetts State Capitol. 

DID YOU KNOW? In the end credits of GLORY, the producers acknowledged the invaluable contribution of the thousands of living history re-enactors from 20 states whose donation of time, equipment and Civil War combat expertise made the film possible. 

Learn more at the AFI Catalog.

Click Here to Find Out How to Watch GLORY Now

GLORY – Reelgood


The movie doesn’t end at the credits: Discussion Questions

Join the conversation on Twitter and Instagram now using #AFIMovieClub. Or post your responses in the comment section below.

  • Do you think the movie GLORY is an accurate portrayal of what the African American experience was like in the Union army? 
  • How does the movie connect the Battle of Antietam, the Emancipation Proclamation and the formation of the Massachusetts 54th Regiment? 
  • How does Robert Gould Shaw react to being promoted to the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry? Why do you think he was chosen? What kind of a leader is Shaw? What is his attitude towards the men he leads? What are some challenges he faces? 
  • Why is the story told through the eyes of the regiment’s white Colonel? How would it have been different if it had been told from the perspective of a Black soldier?  
  • How do other Union soldiers react to the Black regiment? What are the different consequences for white vs. Black soldiers captured by the Confederacy? 
  • How does the character of Trip, played by Denzel Washington, evolve over the course of the film? Why is the flogging scene so particularly humiliating to Trip in the context of slavery? 
  • How does the attitude of the white combat troops change toward the 54th Regiment throughout the course of the year? 
  • How would you rate GLORY? 


AFI has created a global, virtual gathering of those who love the movies. See all of the titles programmed for AFI Movie Club here. Each day’s film is accompanied by fun facts, family-friendly discussion points and material from the AFI Archive to enrich your viewing experience. Learn more in our FAQ section.

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