In Gone With the Wind, the efforts of the Southern troops are seen as heroic. When in reality, General U.S. Grant correctly stated that the Southern troops fought for what was the worst cause that any people have ever fought for: the preservation of slavery. There were revisionist historians then as there are today and the concept that the war was fought for anything other than slavery is simply incorrect. The fact that the war was fought over slavery is brushed aside in this movie. The slaves at the Tara plantation are seem happy and content to be slaves and having the possibility of having their children sold, receiving no pay for their hard work and possibly getting beaten for their insubordination seems to allude the slaves in the movie.
What is historically accurate is the fact that both sides greatly underestimated the strength of the other side and thought that the war would be over by Christmas. The North had more people and more industry but it was thought that one good rebel soldier was worth ten Yankee soldiers. The scene of jubilation among Ashley and the others at the ball are accurate from the accounts of the day concerning the excitement and adventure that the war would surely bring.
Glory is an entertaining as well as important movie. There are few movies as important as Glory as its importance does not lie solely in the gate receipts and the love story between one star and another. Unlike Gone With the Wind, the roles of African-Americans in Glory are portrayed as they were in real life; self respecting and already knowing that they are as good as any man. The roles of Denzel Washington and Morgan Freeman are amazing as they portray soldiers in the 54th Mass. regiment, not as faceless names but rather real people with real stories to tell; a story that seemed to have been lost in history.
In one scene, Denzel Washington tells his leading commander that he was not fighting for him or for the country that has treated him like a second class citizen his entire life but that he was fighting for himself and for future African-Americans. He had no family but if he had, they would be his motivation more than any honor than came from the United States Government. It was this pride that helped lead the rebellion against unfair pay when, despite what they were told, were given only $9 a month instead of the standard $13 a month than white Union soldiers were receiving. In reality, this discrepancy actually did happen and after much protest, equal pay was reinstated to the black troops as was later seen in the movie.
In the end, both movies are examples of great works of art which have stood the test of time. Both have something to show the contemporary viewer but both need to be seen in the context in which they were made. By the making of Glory in 1990, a greater recognition was seen towards the sacrifices of African Americans in their struggle for equality during the entire American experience. Therefore, it was much more likely that African Americans would not be portrayed as mindless slaves, content with whatever was given to them but rather self sufficient and prideful individuals who only wanted their due respect and compensation for their effort to bring equality to their people.