The best civil war movie and possibly the only best to date
The story-Colonel Robert E. Shaw enlists the first black regiment (the 54th massachusetts) in the midst of the civil war. The regiment overcomes odds and obstacles to show that they are in fact a regiment that defines glory. An incredible true story and to say that this actually happened is such an astonishing feat. The storyline is good and though it drags at some times throughout the movie, it still does not stray from making it a failure nor ever comes close to one.
The acting-the only problem, I felt Matthew Broderick could have gone farther with his character. His character is very intriguing indeed, as the first colonel in the civil war to lead the first all black regiment and as a troubled man back at home, he wasn't bad however. Denzel Washington, one of his greatest performances as Pvt. Trip, a former slave, haunted by his life as a slave and struggling to cope with his changing life and where it will lead him. My favorite scene of him in this movie is when he is leaning against a cartwheel being whipped for his arrogance while being in the army. He sheds tears silently taking in the pain and does it so well in conveying it both physically and emotionally. This performance won him an oscar. Morgan Freeman does well as Sgt. Maj. John Rawlins. He does well in conveying a father like figure and as the peacekeeper of the regiment, Freeman never lets you down. Andre Braugher does good as Cpl. Thomas, a man who struggles with the life of being a soldier and towards the end of the film, he had become the soldier who he had sought to be. There is a scene in which i connected with his character-the scene where Thomas starts shedding tears because he feels that he cannot commit to a life in the army. This was a great highlight to his career. Towards the ending, his character had become a brave soldier. A marvelous character transformation. The entire cast did great, even the extras who did their best to make this movie possible and superb. These extras also cut down their pay so that the movie can continued to be financed and made. Devoted actors right there and a superb job.
The directing-Edward Zwick knew what he wanted and he did well in taking a film that is a big challenge since it would be depicting so many big issues particularly slavery, racism, and war. Most directors would fail with this. He took everything he had and came up with a film that helped to mark his place in the cinematic world. An excellent job that would garner a golden globe nomination for best director.
The visuals-the special effects were very believable but the main thing that is to be praised here is the cinematography. An excellent job by cinematographer Freddie Francis (who won an oscar for this) he captures the action and the characters so well and he does so by conveying every single emotion possible into just one shot. For ex: The closeup shot of Denzel Washington's face as he is being whipped and there is a crowd of onlookers, his fellow comrades, behind him. They symbolize the burden of his past and his tears convey the struggle he is still dealing with despite leaving his history of slavery behind. A marvelous shot. Also another shot in the movie is when the regiment is pouring over the walls of Fort wagner and flames are spread throughout the fort and soldiers clash with one another, their only intention to kill. It symbolizes hell. The chaos to the flames all symbolize "hell on earth" and this shot also shows the evil of mankind as well. Excellent job.
Overall this film is a classic and it deserves far more recognition then it already does.