Tagged: history

Theatrical Thursday – Glory (1989).

Period films are often challenging ordeals. Many factors come into play when transferring a fact based story to the big screen, from costumes, to historical accuracy, to the ever-present “will anyone pay to watch this” dilemma. The American Civil War stands among the pivotal moments in our nation’s history, so it stands as no surprise that there have been a plethora of flicks based on that time period made over the years, from the infamous Birth of a Nation in 1915, the legendary Gone with the Wind, and 2003’s Gods and Generals.

 

It was 1989 when a powerful gem named Glory was released into theaters, chronicling the formation of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, an all black regiment mustered in 1863. Directed by Edward Zwick, the movie featured some serious star power in Denzel Washington, Matthew Broderick, Morgan Freeman, Andre Braugher, Cary Elwes, and a host of recognizable faces. Incorporating a triumphant score by James Horner, the film succeeds in painting a multi-layered picture of the trials and hurdles that had to be overcome by black and white troops in the Union Army following the Emancipation Proclamation passed into law by President Lincoln.

 

The film carefully creates a vivid portrait of the main characters, with the simmering tensions of the war serving as a commanding backdrop. I remember getting misty-eyed in the theaters when I saw this film as a kid, and the message that it conveys holds true today. Definitely worth a watch.

Storytime Saturday, featuring an excerpt from an as yet nameless tale.

Take a gander, if you’d like, and let me know what you think.  Happy weekend; stay creative.

He rode slowly and haughtily toward the beast; his approach was strewn with pride at felling such a mighty animal. The others rode the clearing, picking off the last of the exhausted herd, and he reached the animal as it writhed its last frenetic movements. The beast lay dying, an arrow through its chest, drawing its last breaths. He watched the king dismount and walk toward him with knife drawn. His last view consisted of the king, knife in hand, approaching him and drawing the glistening blade across his neck, thus finishing the job. The hunt was over, and the men cheered with pride at their success.

The camp was ripe with the talk of the day; bold stories intermixed with tall fables resounded over the group, and each man enjoyed his share of the well cooked venison. The fires simmered and the king made his rounds with the men, hearing each man’s tale with a warm smile and a ready ear.  

Saturdaydreaming – Where’s the history these days?

When The History Channel launched in 1995, I thought I was in heaven. I remember seeing an advertisement for the channel some months before it first aired, and I just about shit my pants out of pure joy; an entire channel devoted solely to history? It sounded like a dream! And for a long time, it was. At any given time, you could flip that bad boy on and spend hours watching specials on WWII, the Civil War, and all sorts of historically relevant goodness. The network even launched History International, which focused more on world events. It was a great time to be a history fan, no doubt, with all of those gems tucked neatly into one amazing channel.
Then the reality TV boom hit, and just like that, the fabled joy of historical television went the way of the passenger pigeon. I was flipping channels this morning and happened to see a WWII documentary on- and I did a double take. The History Channel was actually showing history? Was my brain playing a trick on me? What’s the world coming to? The channel has gone the way of MTV (and seemingly every other channel, for that matter), and almost exclusively airs reality programming. It’s all day Appalachian Outlaws (you’ve gotta be be kidding me on that one), Mountain Men, Ax Men, Ice Road Truckers, Swamp People (c’mon now), Pawn Stars, and a slew of absolute junk that has zero to do with anybody’s history. It makes me wonder why the hell I don’t have a show…I couldn’t do any worse than The Legend of Shelby the Swamp Man, right? Why even call it the History Channel, then?
I do think that it’s an absolute crime that kids today (and the majority of adults for that matter) know more about Snookie and the Housewives, Bieber, and the Kardashians than they do about the events that have shaped the climate of the world they live in. And a channel like the History Channel, the ultimate platform for promoting the genre, only showing shock value garbage like Cajun Pawn Stars, is pure blasphemy. It’s a testament to the consistent dumbing down of the American public at the hands of mainstream media. As long as folks keep watching Duck Dynasty, networks will keep putting that meal onto our plates. I’m not insulting anyone for their viewing tastes, mind you, but rather the lack of variety or intellectual fare available. As in, what are we really learning from Storage Wars? As it stands, no channel really shows much of anything anymore- it’s pretty much a steady stream of reality TV; channels like the History Channel (or Discovery, A&E, and other channels that have abandoned any attempt at real life relevance) have the power to fill a great void, but manage to maintain a viewer base with shows created purely for the wow factor (Honey Boo Boo, anyone?). It says a lot when the American public knows more about who won American Idol than they do about who won the Civil War. That’s just my take on it.

Theatrical Thursday – Glory (1989).

Period films are often challenging ordeals. Many factors come into play when transferring a fact based story to the big screen, from costumes, to historical accuracy, to the ever-present “will anyone pay to watch this” dilemma. The American Civil War stands among the pivotal moments in our nation’s history, so it stands as no surprise that there have been a plethora of flicks based on that time period made over the years, from the infamous Birth of a Nation in 1915, the legendary Gone with the Wind, and 2003’s Gods and Generals. It was 1989 when a powerful gem named Glory was released into theaters, chronicling the formation of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, an all black regiment mustered in 1863. Directed by Edward Zwick, the movie featured some serious star power in Denzel Washington, Matthew Broderick, Morgan Freeman, Andre Braugher, Cary Elwes, and a host of recognizable faces. Incorporating a triumphant score by James Horner, the film succeeds in painting a multi-layered picture of the trials and hurdles that had to be overcome by black and white troops in the Union Army following the Emancipation Proclamation passed into law by President Lincoln. The film carefully creates a vivid portrait of the main characters, with the simmering tensions of the war serving as a commanding backdrop. I remember getting misty-eyed in the theaters when I saw this film as a kid, and the message that it conveys holds true today. Definitely worth a watch.