Glory appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. All in all, I found the image to be extremely pleasing, as the movie looked clearer and more attractive than I expected.
Sharpness seemed pretty good. A few shots looked just a bit soft, but those weren’t a concern. Instead, the majority of the movie demonstrated nice delineation. I noticed no issues with jagged edges or shimmering, and edge enhancement appeared to be absent. As for source flaws, they failed to mar the presentation. Grain stayed within normal levels, and this was a clean transfer.
Colors appeared nicely accurate and vivid. The film featured a natural and pleasing palette, and the disc reproduced these hues well. From the rich blues of the uniforms to the reds seen in flags and other components, all tones looked rich and bold. Black levels also were deep and strong, and shadow detail appeared appropriately heavy but never excessively opaque. I felt impressed by this presentation.
Also satisfying was the movie’s Dolby Digital TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack. The soundfield seemed surprisingly broad and engaging. The forward channels offered a wide and involving experience that spread sounds neatly and created a realistic auditory environment. The sound blended together well and appeared convincing.
Surrounds kicked in with lots of useful audio that reinforced the forward speakers to great effect. James Horner’s score was bolstered nicely by the rear channels, and I also heard very positive use of various effects. From quieter ambient sounds like those heard in the mess hall to more vivid effects such as warfare or thunder storms, these scenes came across with a natural and convincing presence that was much better than I expected from a 1989 release.
Audio quality was good. Speech could be a slight bit edgy at times, but the lines were usually acceptably concise and natural. Effects also betrayed a little distortion on occasion, but not to a distracting degree. Instead, those elements normally seemed accurate and full; battle scenes boasted good impact and bass.
Music consistently seemed strong. The score appeared clear and bright without any of the distortion concerns that affected the rest of the track. The music was deep and rich, and it offered a satisfying experience. I thought this soundtrack held up well after 20 years.
Most of the extras from the prior Special Edition DVD repeat here. We open with an audio commentary from director Edward Zwick. He provides a running, screen-specific chat that looks at research and historical elements, cast, characters and performances, sets and locations, recreating battles, music, cinematography and visual design, and a few other production topics.
Zwick provides a good overview of the film. He touches on a nice mix of subjects and develops most of them well. I’d like to know more about the apparent discord between Matthew Broderick and Cary Elwes, but even without that dirt, this is a nice chat.
For something exclusive to the Blu-ray, we head to the Virtual Civil War Battlefield. This displays a map and always you to select Civil War-related subjects based on geography. We get more info about the 54th as well as biographies and specifics about battles.
Most of these details come to us via windows with text and photos, but a few “Video Journals” also appear. These accompany “Gettysburg” (2:59), “Antietam” (1:44), “Lincoln Elected” (1:07), “Emancipation” (1:25), “First Bull Run” (1:02), “Chancellorsville” (1:55), “General Lee Bio” (1:03), “Columbia” (1:15), “Fort Sumter” (2:24), “Fort Henry” (1:31), “Fort Donelson” (1:41), and “Shiloh” (0:28). During the clips, we hear from author/Civil War historian Dr. Roger Ransom and Pepperdine University Professor of History Dr. Stewart Davenport. The brevity of the snippets means they’re not especially detailed, but they’re still informative. Overall, the “Battlefield” becomes a moderately interesting way to learn a little more about the Civil War.
One complaint: I’d like to have an option to go through the “Battlefield” segments in chronological order. Since we examine them geographically, our understanding of the war’s development becomes disjointed. There’s no coherence to the chronology here, so it’s more difficult to follow the material.
Most prominent among the remaining features is The True Story of Glory Continues, an oddly titled but generally interesting 45-minute and 18-second documentary. Narrated by Morgan Freeman, this show details some of the events covered in the film but - as implied by the title - goes past the movie’s ending to offer additional facts. Actually, even the portions that focus on the flick’s storyline include new data, since the film took some liberties with history; the documentary apparently sticks more closely to reality.
“The True Story” uses a combination of photos and art from the period plus footage of Civil War re-enactors to tell its tale. The latter add a nice element of visual flair to the show. While I found “The True Story” to be a little dry at times, it nonetheless provides a good look at the subject.
Voices of Glory takes another look at some of the actual soldiers from the 54th Regiment. Narrated by Georg Stanford Brown, this program includes interview snippets with historian James O. Horton and also offers excerpts from letters written by the soldiers; these are read by three different actors including Sean Patrick Thomas of the hit Save the Last Dance. The 11-minute and 18-second piece focuses mainly on the pay issue covered in the movie, though a few other topics are discussed as well. Some of the actors over-emote, but it’s a compelling program anyway.
We also find an Original Featurette. This piece comes from the time of the film’s theatrical release and it lasts seven minutes, 36 seconds. Since the movie is Glory, it’s appropriate we get a “glorler”: a glorified trailer. Actually, it’s a little better than most, as it combines some interview snippets with film clips and shots from the set, but it’s clearly promotional in nature and doesn’t offer a lot of information.
Glory includes two Deleted Scenes. “The Apple Picker” (3:03) focuses on Trip, Rawlins and Sharts as they encounter their first scent of death, while “Crisis of Conscience” (2:35) looks at a chat between Shaw and his compatriot, Major Forbes (Cary Elwes). Both are interesting - though the second is a little lame - but both were also redundant and needed to be cut. In an optional commentary track, director Zwick discusses the scenes and the reasons for their omission.
A few ads appear in the Previews domain. We get promos for The Da Vinci Code, The Patriot, Black Hawk Down, Air Force One and The Legend of Zorro.
Does this Blu-ray lose anything from the Special Edition DVD? Yup. To my surprise, it omits a video commentary from Zwick and actors Morgan Freeman and Matthew Broderick. All of Zwick’s remarks still show up in his audio commentary, but the notes from the actors don’t appear anywhere in this set. Why drop the informative and interesting video commentary? I have no idea.
Glory is a solid effort that tells an important story in a compelling and evocative manner; Zwick usually does well with this kind of material, and Glory is no exception. The Blu-ray offers very positive picture and sound plus a nice array of supplements. I felt very pleased with this Blu-ray edition of Glory and recommend it to fans.