Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5.
USA, 1989. TriStar Pictures, Freddie Fields Productions. Screenplay by Kevin Jarre, based on the letters of Robert Gould Shaw, the book Lay This Laurel by Lincoln Kirstein and the book One Gallant Rush by Peter Burchard. Cinematography by Freddie Francis. Produced by Freddie Fields. Music by James Horner. Production Design by Norman Garwood. Costume Design by Francine Jamison-Tanchuck. Film Editing by Steven Rosenblum.
This fantastic Civil War drama looks at the very first African-American regiment in the United States army. It intelligently explores the outside atmosphere that influenced this move on the military’s part as well as going well within the ranks to examine the personal conflicts that happen between many of the soldiers. Matthew Broderick plays true-life Colonel Robert Shaw, who volunteers to be the leader of this troop, even though it is at the personal risk of his life (the Southern armies have orders to kill the commanders of any all-black troops) and despite the prejudices of his friends. Denzel Washington brings fiery intensity to his role as an ex-slave who has volunteered as a private in the army but has no intention of trying to be good enough for anybody but himself, while Morgan Freeman displays his fantastic, quiet grace as a sergeant trying to be achieve as much as possible in his lifetime while serving his country. Edward Zwick has done a marvelous job of weaving together the tapestry of these many characters as well as fully presenting the historical backdrop upon which they interact. Jane Alexander appears in an unbilled cameo.
Academy Awards: Best Supporting Actor (Denzel Washington); Best Cinematography; Best Sound
Nominations: Best Art Direction; Best Film Editing
Golden Globe Award: Best Supporting Actor (Denzel Washington)
Nominations: Best Picture-Drama; Best Director (Edward Zwick); Best Screenplay; Best Original Score