HOME |  JOIN |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Lookout, The
Black Belt
Resident Evil: The Final Chapter
Their Finest
Stella Cadente
Water Drops on Burning Rocks
Replace
Belladonna of Sadness
Aquarius
Erik the Conqueror
Baghead
Guns at Batasi
Gang Story, A
Magnificent Ambersons, The
Climber, The
It's a Big Country
Raw
Last Man Standing
Transfiguration, The
Alien Nation
Kajaki
Certain Fury
Life
Hundra
Wonder Woman
Francesca
Jimi Plays Berkeley
Berlin Syndrome
Cure for Wellness, A
Warriors Gate, The
   
 
Newest Articles
Two Sides of Sellers: The Party vs The Optimists
Norse Code: The Vikings vs The Long Ships
Over the Moon - Space: 1999 The Complete Series on Blu-ray Part 2
Alpha Males and Females - Space: 1999 The Complete Series on Blu-ray Part 1
Animated Anxieties: From the Era of the Creepiest Cartoons
Manor On Movies--Clegg (1970)
Plans for Nigel: The Crunch... and Other Stories on DVD
Let's Get Harry: Repo Man and Paris, Texas
Shut Up, Crime! The Punisher at the Movies
Thunderbollocks: The Golden Age of Bond Rip-Offs
   
 
  Paths of Glory The War SongBuy this film here.
Year: 1957
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Stars: Kirk Douglas, Ralph Meeker, Adolphe Menjou, George Macready, Wayne Morris, Richard Anderson, Joe Turkel, Christiane Kubrick, Jerry Hausner, Peter Capell, Emile Meyer, Bert Freed, Kem Dibbs, Timothy Carey, Fred Bell
Genre: War
Rating:  9 (from 2 votes)
Review: The closing stages of the First World War, and the trenches along the Western Front are bearing the brunt of the battle, as they have been for some time, the conflict having reached an impasse. It is clear drastic action must be taken to gain the upper hand, and with that in mind the French General Broulard (Adolphe Menjou) has visited his friend and compatriot General Mireau (George Macready) with a view to persuading his troops to go over the top and take a strategically significant region known as the Ant Hill. Although both are well aware this will result in a loss of life for their men that may be very high indeed, Mireau decides that the bravery of the action will win the day. Bravery - or stupidity?

The director of Paths of Glory was Stanley Kubrick, who had yet to make a name for himself, or at least the name he would become, but for many this was his first masterpiece, a brutal anti-war tale that was not savage because of its violent imagery, more because of the frankness of its portrayal as men as cannon fodder in the First World War. Accompanying that was the theme that cowardice in these circumstances was not so much self-preservation when there was really no sensible course of action to take that would see you gunned down or blown up, and not just you but a great swathe of your fellow soldiers, when the more reasonable option would appear to be to keep the loss of life at the enemy's hands to a minimum.

The supposedly unavoidable notion that some examples had to be made in order to win the wars so nobody would entertain the question, "Are you serious? You want me to get killed for you?" was not one which bothered Kubrick and his writers (including pulp thriller legend Jim Thompson), as they were more set on showing up the superior officers who saw to it that their men were effectively slaughtered for a false idea of glory. Epitomising that was Macready, who had made a career of playing bad guys yet here was offered the role of his career; he could be accused of blustering his way through his performances, yet here he proved there was an excellent actor underneath that, his General Mireau a very understandable, and therefore more chilling, monster.

It is Mireau who orders the taking of the Ant Hill, and when it predictably fails and the surviving troops are beating a retreat since there's no other course of action available, he further orders the artillery to shell them as a punishment. That sense of arbitrary punishment for actions that deserved far more compassion was shot through the drama of Paths of Glory, a cry for humanism in an inhuman set of circumstances, and when it doesn't arrive the feelings of outrage and harrowing injustice are palpable: precisely what Kubrick wished to elicit in his audience. This means the film was his first truly controversial work in a professional life littered with them as it met with criticism and even bans from various European countries, including France of course, thanks to its withering look at the deficiencies of the war machine, everyone well aware that executions for cowardice were a dreadful feature of this event.

Which brought us to the actor who summed up what was more than indignant grumbling, it was, for Kubrick, a genuinely emotional response. He was the man who actually kept the project in motion, star Kirk Douglas, who loved the script and was determined to make it a movie with himself in the lead. He got his wish, and you could well understand why it appealed so, as his performance was among the finest ever seen in this director's oeuvre, a tightly controlled delivery of good sense in a world that has gone mad. Douglas's Colonel Dax is not afraid to tackle the war as is his duty, but he is not about to accept Mireau and Broulard's resolution of the failed assault, which is to take three men from each platoon at random and have them executed for cowardice. Another element arose here, that every dead man in the war was a statistic for the history books, yet they were actual, living, breathing people as well, and deserved to exist as much as the generals sending them to their deaths. The final scene was ironic as it was moving, as the French soldiers recognise a common humanity between themselves and their supposed enemies, but Douglas putting across the sheer anger that this course of events had to take place was impossible to dismiss. Music by Gerald Fried.

[Eureka's Blu-ray features a restored print that looks just dandy, and as extra features an audio commentary, three video essays, the trailer, a booklet (with rare Kubrick interview), a music and effects track, and subtitles too.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 496 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

Stanley Kubrick  (1928 - 1999)

American director famous for his technical skills and endless film shoots, who made some of modern cinema's greatest pictures. New York-born Kubrick began shooting documentaries in the early 50s, leading to his first directing jobs on the moody noir thrillers Killer's Kiss and The Killing. The powerful anti-war film Paths of Glory followed, leading star Kirk Douglas to summon Kubrick to direct the troubled Spartacus in 1960.

Lolita was a brave if not entirely successful attempt to film Nabokov's novel, but Kubrick's next three films were all masterpieces. 1964's Dr Strangelove was a brilliant, pitch black war comedy, 2001: A Space Odyssey set new standards in special effects, while A Clockwork Orange was a hugely controversial, shocking satire that the director withdrew from UK distribution soon after its release. Kubrick, now relocated to England and refusing to travel elsewhere, struggled to top this trio, and the on-set demands on his cast and crew had become infamous.

Barry Lyndon was a beautiful but slow-paced period piece, The Shining a scary Stephen King adaptation that was nevertheless disowned by the author. 1987's Vietnam epic Full Metal Jacket showed that Kubrick had lost none of his power to shock, and if the posthumously released Eyes Wide Shut was a little anti-climatic, it still capped a remarkable career.

 
Review Comments (2)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Who's the best?
Robin Askwith
Mark Wahlberg
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Ian Phillips
Jensen Breck
Enoch Sneed
Paul Smith
Stately Wayne Manor
Paul Shrimpton
  Vikki Sanderson
   

 

Last Updated: