Glory 4K Blu-ray Review

Glory was a movie that I’d been hearing of for nearly my entire life. I heard it was a harrowing story of a too often forgotten group of American heroes. I was always curious to see the film and chance after chance something kept me from seeing it until this past weekend. Glory does indeed tell quite a story about a very special group of soldiers and the film is one not to be missed even 30 years after it was initially released.



Glory is set in the civil war era and is about the 54th Massachusetts Infantry. Captain Robert Shaw (Matthew Broderick) is home recovering from a battle wound when accepts the promotion to Colonel commanding the 54th Infantry, an all-black regiment of the Union Army. He is aware of the task at hand and immediately asks for volunteers for the new Infantry. The first person Shaw asks to join him is his friend Cabot Forbes (Cary Elwes) to be the Major in the company. Shaw’s other friend, Thomas Searles (Andre Braugher) volunteers immediately. He is a black man born free in the north and sees opportunity in joining the army. Silas Trip (Denzel Washington) and John Rawlins (Morgan Freeman) also quickly join up to serve their country in a fight for freedom and for the rights of people of color in the north and the south.

The film does take many pages from the “War Movie” playbook at first. Director Edward Zwick fills the screen with smoke-filled images of battle and shows vignettes of men being recruited for a hellish war ahead. That’s all well and good, but the real meat of the story is in covering a subject that very oddly seemed to go untold until this film was released in 1989. Black soldiers have been in the military since 1863. To have that story go untold for so long, at least to me, is astounding.

Silas Trip is an especially compelling character and Denzel Washington’s Oscar-winning portrayal is one of magnetism and vulnerability. Trip is undereducated, defensive, and totally un-naïve to the goings-on of the time. He is the polar opposite of Thomas Searles, who was born free and is book-smart and educated – which brings him some harsh criticism from his peers. Morgan Freeman’s John Rawlins is almost always the voice of reason in moments of misunderstanding. He has lived life beyond a lot of the young members of the Infantry and he is almost like a father figure to the men, even to Shaw himself. Matthew Broderick is himself a young soldier who is still figuring out his own acceptance of people of color but also trying to distinguish his right from wrong. It’s clear that Shaw is all for human rights over just “white rights” but he also makes some terrible mistakes.

The white soldiers are also unsure of how to begin to accept the black soldiers. Some of the men are just downright cruel. Some want to be shoulder to shoulder with one another but are also trying to figure out their own issues with race and their own differences despite all of the infantry still fighting the same war.  The thing that’s relatable even now, 30 years from the original release of the film and hundreds of years removed from the Civil War is the cold truth that we still are seeing some outright blatant and disgusting racism like what we see in Glory. These moments can be tense and uncomfortable even now.  The film still aspires to make people think, act, learn to accept and become a brotherhood, not exclusive to what race you are, but bound by shared experience. In this film, that experience is that war is, was, and always will be Hell…No matter what race you are.  By the time we finally do get to the battle, we are fully engrossed, on a journey with the 54th, truly caring for the men and pulling for them all the way!

Glory centers around a story that is still timely despite the Civil War setting. The material is presented with beautifully acted performances, an iconic score, a leisurely pace (how many people can say that about a war film?!) and sound direction from Zwick. The cinematography is also brilliant (by Freddie Francis who won an Oscar for his work) and the writing by Kevin Jarre is fully realized on the screen.  This is a brilliant film about war. It is an even more brilliant film about acceptance, honor, and bravery.


  • Encoding: HEVC/H.265
  • Resolution: 4K
  • Dolby Vision: No
  • HDR: HDR10
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Clarity/Detail: Glory is given a new life in the 4K format. The clarity is overall a stunning upgrade to the standard Blu-ray. Uniforms, battlegrounds, lush 1800’s interiors and soldier camps all benefit from the uptick. Facial details, hair, and clothing also look wonderful.
  • Depth: This is not the movie to give off a 3D pop like a lot of newer films. The depth here is used in such a way that battle scenes and other outdoor moments look almost like they’d been created live.
  • Black Levels: Blacks are natural and deep throughout, never succumbing to black crush or my fave (sarcastic!) – Gray Blacks.
  • Color Reproduction: Colors are vivid in this presentation. Reds and greens especially pop. Whites are very bright as well, and fires glow with a fierce orange. There is a gorgeous natural color palette here. You can tell in specific moments where HDR helps colors pop much more than the 1080p Blu-ray.
  • Flesh Tones: Natural as can be.
  • Noise/Artifacts: While there is not a speck of print damage, this film does contain a heavy dose of grain. While this doesn’t bother me in the slightest, I know 4K fans are divided on grain, so it’s of note to say this film has plenty of it. Sometimes the grain is thick and heavy, and other times grain is subtle.


  • Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos (with a 7.1 TrueHD core), English DTS-HD 5.1, English DTS-HD 2.0, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish – DTS-HD 5.1, Czech, Hungarian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish and Thai – Dolby Digital 5.1,
  • Subtitles: English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, Arabic, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Estonian, Greek, Finnish, Hungarian, Korean, Lithuanian, Mandarin, Norwegian, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Swedish, Thai, Turkish
  • Dynamics: Dynamics of this mix are perfectly balanced among the Atmos soundstage.  The surrounds are used perfectly at ear level and above, and the lows are used in great ways too! Dialogue is prioritized just where it should be at all times.
  • Low-Frequency Extension: Low-end rumble is prominent throughout with drumming, music, certain firearm blasts, and the other many sounds of battle. Some of the gunshots are flat, but that’s inherent to the source and the sound effects haven’t been changed.
  • Surround Sound Presentation: Surrounds are used to showcase sounds on-screen and off. The channels often have nature, battle or party or group sounds, and are active through the majority of the film.
  • Height: Height channels contain similar sounds from the other surround channels. The main difference here is during scenes of battle, especially the final battle. Here you hear sounds from above fairly frequently.
  • Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue is loud and clear always no matter what channel it is. Of course, the dialogue is primarily in the center channel most of the time.


Glory comes with a slipcover and a digital code to redeem the movie for streaming. Additionally, we have two new extras on the 4K disc and some legacy extras on the accompanying Blu-ray. The extras are as follows:

  • Picture In Picture Commentary in HD (4K Disc) (1080p, 2:02:14)
  • Theatrical Trailer (4K Disc) (1080p, 1:29)
  • Virtual Civil War Battlefield (Blu-ray Disc) This feature is an interactive map of points of interest.
  • The Voices of Glory (Blu-ray Disc) (480i, 11:18) More on the history of the 54th
  • The True Story Continues (Blu-ray Disc) (480i, 45:18) Even more on the history of the 54th, this time narrated by Morgan Freeman with scenes from the film intercut with the narration.
  • Original Making-of Featurette (Blu-ray Disc) (480i, 7:36) A Vintage EPK style making-of
  • Deleted Scenes (Blu-ray Disc) (480i, 5:38 in total) Two short deleted scenes with optional director commentary.


Glory reflects a true journey of unsung heroes. You will never forget the film after you see it and overall will be moved by the emotional sentiment shown by the passionate performances. Edward Zwick’s sound direction also plays a part here and this is a true treat among the war genre. Those voices telling me for so long to see this film weren’t wrong, and for fans of the war film genre, this is one to savor!



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