March 15, 2016

The Score from "Glory"

The late (RIP: June 22, 2015) James Horner was, along with John Williams and certain others, one of the more successful composers of the modern age of Hollywood. He began his career with "The Woman in Red" in 1979, and ended with the score (posthumously) to the new Magnificent Seven of 2016. In between, he had many famous scores, such as Braveheart, Titanic, and Avatar. He won many awards, including Golden Globes and Oscars.

However, the score I find most incredible is his soundtrack for "Glory." Glory is the Edward Zwick film about the Massachusetts 54th Regiment during the American Civil War. As portrayed in the film, and above, the 54th Massachusetts was a regiment composed almost entirely of African American soldiers, both original freemen and former slaves. Led by Colonel Robert Gould Shaw (by Matthew Broderick in the movie, as seen below), the regiment saw action in the South, and eventually lost many of its members in an assault on Fort Wagner.

The cinematic adaption of this story, featuring excerpts of Shaw's journal read by Broderick, and starring Broderick, Cary Elwes, Denzel Washington, Andre Braugher, Morgan Freeman, and Bob Gunton, among others, debuted in 1989. It won several academy awards, as well as many others. However, it was not nominated for "Best Original Score," (though Horner's "Field of Dreams" was), a fact which continues to puzzle many, including me, even these years later., my "go to" site for movie score reviews, has a "buy it / avoid it" section for all of their reviews. For Glory, it runs as thus:

I must agree with this. There is NO good reason to avoid listening to this score. Horner uses solo trumpets, drums, horns, and the Harlem Boy's Choir to massive effect. I cannot conceive of the movie without this score

While I would suggest listening to the score, I recommend that you first watch the movie. When the emotional storm ir produces has subsided, listen to the score. Be amazed at the beauty and evocativeness of it. Below is a frieze of the 54th Massachusetts, by the sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, created 1884-1887. If I believed sculptor could come to life, it would be this sculpture, in this movie.

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