Glory Blu-ray Review

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by Casimir Harlow Aug 12, 2009 at 12:00 AM

  • Movies review

    Glory Blu-ray Review
    SRP: £19.99


    Despite being some two decades' old, Glory comes to Blu-ray with a visual representation that is markedly improved representation over previous SD-DVD incarnations. Providing us with a 1080p High Definition rendition in the movie's original theatrical aspect ratio of widescreen 1.85:1, the picture itself is largely devoid of any print damage, defects or digital artefacts. Detail itself is fairly good, with a light sheen of grain prevalent throughout but not wholly out of place for this kind of gritty war affair. The colour scheme is quite dour but this is largely because of said wartime setting, and those tones on offer are presented fairly accurately. I would have thought that a slightly broader aspect ratio may have helped lend a more panoramic feel to the larger military setpieces - particularly the final charge - but clearly the Cinematography still stands up, and was recognised by an Oscar at the time. This is not the kind of material with which you can show off your Home Cinema equipment by any means, but it is an example of how much Blu-ray can do for a movie visually, irrespective of its age.
    Glory Picture


    Glory's UK Blu-ray debut comes with a decent enough audio representation as well, its Dolby TrueHD track drawing parallels with the image in that, although it does not offer up anything special to blow your ears or particularly immerse you, the original soundtrack is most certainly presented better than ever before. The dialogue comes across clearly and coherently, largely dominating the frontal array, whilst the arrays tend to come in the form of big shell hits and rifle shots played off against a backdrop of smaller, more atmospheric touches. This is not an all-enveloping mix, nor does it ever show off any noteworthy dynamics, or even significant bass (just a few minor thuds in the battle scenes) but it is still probably the best we have ever heard from this 20-year-old war epic, another fine example of what the High Def media can do.
    Glory Sound


    Glory was eventually released in a 2-disc Special Edition, one which carried with it a wealth of extra material, not least a Picture-in-Picture Video Commentary from the Director. Whilst all of the other significant extras were ported over for this release, rather oddly the PiP track is NOT here. There are really no excuses - the inherent capacity of the Hi-Def format surely must have allowed for its inclusion, so why is it not here? Still, we do get the decent Audio Commentary with the Director, a must-listen for fans, who will lap up every word of contribution from the man behind the film, who charts its production, setting, filming, casting and budget limitations, all the while relating it back to the original story and legend that it was trying to bring to life.

    The Voices Of Glory provides 11 minutes' worth of Featurette looking at the original letters written by African-American Union soldiers, pleading for equal pay, and recounting their experiences for family members. The letters are read out and then commented on, and were as part of the foundation for the movie's story, so this makes for a worthy extra.

    The True Story of Glory Continues is a slightly disappointing Documentary which runs at three quarters of an hour in length and largely charts the same history of the 54th, only in more detail. Looking at the regiment's various engagements, it sports some sporadic narration from Morgan Freeman and even some re-enactments, but is not quite worth sitting through in its entirety, unless you're a massive history buff.

    The Original Making-Off Featurette is typical of its ilk, running at 8 minutes and playing like little more than an extended trailer, a purely promotional piece with cast and crew snippets and glimpses of behind the scenes footage. We also get two largely superfluous Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary by the Director. It certainly would have been nice to see more character development but unfortunately the little extra footage here does not give us that.

    Finally we get a Virtual Civil War Battlefield. More than just your average BD gimmick, this interactive tool is actually quite a good historical map of the warring States and offering up mini-histories of each and every significant one of them, complete with text trivia and video commentary from historians.
    Glory Extras


    Glory is a decent enough historical epic, compelling mainly thanks to its ability to focus on both the great battles and the inner struggles of its many characters. Charting a key aspect of the American Civil War, it carefully walks the line between sentimentality and saccharine, never grating by pulling too hard on your heart-strings, whilst still allowing you to care for its war veterans/victims. With some solid early performances from the likes of Freeman and Washington, it is limited only by budget and time restrictions, and consequently it occasionally looks a bit dated. This Region-Free UK Blu-ray release of acclaimed Civil War movie is identical to its US counterpart, just as glorious but also suffering from the fact that it lacks one of the key extras from the SD-DVD 2-disc special edition - the PiP Commentary. Still, it is otherwise a clear upgrade, so fans should not hesitate in picking it up, and newcomers who are interested in the American Civil War, or history in general, should consider it a worthy watch.
    Glory Verdict

    Suggested retail price when reviewed: £19.99

    The Rundown



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