Glory tells the compelling story behind the U.S. Civil War’s first all-black volunteer company, where they fight prejudices from both the Union and the Confederate Armies. Ralph Potts reviews the 30th Anniversary Ultra HD Blu-ray release from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )
Audio/UHD Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Sony Pictures – 1989
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 122 minutes
Disc Format: BD-66
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1, English/French/Spanish DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio/DTS-HD Master Audio Stereo (Blu-ray)
Subtitles: English SDH French, Spanish
Starring: Denzel Washington , Morgan Freeman, Matthew Borderick, Cary Elwes, Andre Braugher, John Finn
Directed by: Edward Zwick
Music by: James Horner
Written by: Kevin Jarre
Region Code: A,B,C
Release Date: July 30, 2019
“Men Who Fought for Freedom and Found Glory”
“Commemorate the 30th anniversary of Edward Zwick’s Glory: the heart-stopping story of the first black regiment to fight for the North in the Civil War, starring Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington, Cary Elwes and Morgan Freeman. Broderick and Elwes are the idealistic young Bostonians who lead the regiment; Freeman is the inspirational sergeant who unites the troops; and Denzel Washington, in an Academy Award®-winning performance (1989, Best Supporting Actor), is the runaway slave who embodies the indomitable spirit of the 54th Regiment of Massachusetts.” – Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
I reviewed Glory when it released on Blu-ray in 2009 and have included comments from that review here. The rating for the film is the same. New ratings for the Ultra HD video, Dolby Atmos mix and bonus features are included.
As an African American I often find myself reflecting when I watch films or read stories like those depicted in Glory. I wonder what it must have been like for them and if I had lived during those times, could I have withstood the experiences these men went through? The Civil War itself was bad enough but, having to endure the racial injustice that prevailed at the time added another dimension to it. I think that the film touches upon these to varying degrees and offers some level of insight into what it might have been like for all involved. This ranges from Colonel Shaw all the way down to Pvt. Jupiter Sharts.
This period in our history was such a tumultuous one and Glory captures a snapshot that derives enough to encapsulate the strife that plagued our great nation. Character development is strong as we are given an intimate portrayal of the internal struggles experienced by both the black and white soldiers within and outside of the regiment. Robert’s personal thoughts are derived from his letters as his perspective is related in some detail. I saw Glory when it was released back in 1989 and, have been a fan ever since.
The casting, performances (Denzel Washington earned an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor) and direction are simply marvelous. The story of the 54th Massachusetts, the first black infantry regiment during the Civil War is not only compelling but poignant. These men, one and all, epitomized the unconquerable spirit of bravery, hope, dedication, and the belief that all men deserve freedom and the right to fight for what they believe in. A must-see film.
The rating is for violence and thematic material.
AUDIO/VIDEO – By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
UHD Presentation: 90
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
Dolby Atmos Rating: 90
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
Glory comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound.
Glory recently underwent a 4K re-mastering with the approval of director Edward Zwick and, its presentation on Ultra HD Blu-ray was derived from that process.
It’s important to note that the ultimate goal for any release on home video is to present a film in the highest possible quality based upon its original elements. A film like Glory has an aesthetic that incorporates film grain and the use of optics that won’t result in the type of high gloss, tack-like sharpness of a film shot using digital cameras. This isn’t a problem and shouldn’t be seen as such.
Looking at the film’s opening moments, I wasn’t immediately struck by the upgrade in resolution however as the scene played out and then later, the improvement in depth, definition and color rendering became more obvious. The interior shots of the Shaw home revealed delineated and natural color rendering as well as an uptick in fine detail, not present on the 1080p rendering.
The addition of high dynamic range added a tangible visual element that enriched both natural and artificial light. The flickering of the firelight around the nighttime encampment appeared very lifelike. The star of the show was nighttime attack on Fort Wagner in the final act. The various explosions, cannon fire and streaming mortars had appreciable specular highlights and brilliant whites. Dark highlights were rendered with excellent dimension when coupled with these brighter visual elements. Mild black crush can be seen in low-level scenes but, this is something that was noticeable in the 1080p rendering so I would surmise that it’s innate to the source.
The image isn’t razor sharp and, there are intermittent issues with innate softening, but detail rendering is very good overall. Grain remains intact with predominantly natural rendering that occasionally takes on more emphasis. Glory looked solid and represents the film in its finest light since coming to home video.
In listening to the Dolby Atmos surround mix I found it to be a fairly entertaining listening experience that made steady use of the platform. Its use of audio objects placed above is a mix of atmospherics, discrete effects and music. This is done quite well, and where applied, creates a tangible level of immersion that coincides with the onscreen events nicely. I noticed that the front overhead channels were used for adding depth to the soundstage while the rear overhead channels contained more discrete sound objects/effects. In addition to things like overhead pans where sounds move through the soundstage, there are several sequences that bring everything together, most notably the attack on Fort Wagner in the finale. I was pleasantly surprised at how enjoyable this Dolby Atmos presentation was, adding a complimentary element that elevated the experience of watching the film.
For those not familiar with the details regarding Ultra HD Blu-ray you can refer to my article that includes some pertinent data on the subject. Here is the link:
- Disc 1: Glory Ultra HD Blu-ray
Visual Feature-Length Commentary (on the 4K Ultra HD disc)
Theatrical Trailer (on the 4K Ultra HD disc)
- Disc 2: Glory Blu-ray
Deleted Scenes with Commentary
Virtual Civil War Battlefield Interactive Map
“The True Story Continues” Documentary
“The Voices of Glory” Featurette
“The Making of Glory” Featurette
- Digital Copy
Glory is truly a must-see film experience. It tells an important story that takes place during one of the darkest periods in our nation’s history, the Civil War. The struggles undertaken to ensure the freedom and rights of all is not something that was taken lightly, at that time, nor by those who were part of this film. It is one of my favorites and I am so glad that it has come to Ultra HD Blu-ray. This is another strong catalog title release on Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. It features beautifully restored Ultra HD video, a complimentary Dolby Atmos immersive sound mix, and worthwhile bonus features. If you’re a fan and are equipped to take advantage of the Ultra HD/Dolby Atmos upgrades, this Ultra HD release is highly recommended.
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Reference Review System:
JVC DLA-RS2000 4K Ultra High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6-HDR Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen – Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16×9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7704 Audio/Video Processor
Emotiva XPA-7 Gen 3 Seven Channel Amplifier
Emotiva XPA-11 Gen 3 Amplifier Panasonic DP-UB820 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton “Ergo” and Canton In-Ceiling Series Speakers
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
Dual SVS PC4000 Cylinder Subwoofers
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) – Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems