Glory heralds the bravery of the American Civil War's first black fighting unit. Most of the emphasis has gone into evoking a firm sense of period: screenwriter Kevin Jarre reveals less talent for full-blooded characterisation and dialogue. Led by white officers headed by Colonel Robert Gould Shaw (Broderick), the men set off from the North for confrontation, which culminates in the bloody storming of a Confederate fort. Among the soldiers (and giving the best performances) are a calm gravedigger (Freeman) and a belligerent runaway slave (Washington). Voice-over narration makes effective use of the real-life Shaw's correspondence, but in terms of authenticity the battle sequences are truly impressive. Marching across open fields amid cannon-shot, or plunging into hand-to-hand combat, the stark clarity of Freddie Francis' cinematography combined with Zwick's intimate style evokes immediacy and fear.