HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Great White
Spy Who Came in from the Cold, The
Raya and the Last Dragon
Letter from Paris
Behind the Mask
Lucky
Matrix, The
Undergods
Betrayed
Fried Barry
Once Upon a River
Cowboys
Atlantis
We Still Say Grace
Enfant Terrible
Nomadland
Playboy of the Western World, The
Bike Thief, The
Threshold
Virtuoso, The
Here are the Young Men
Beast Beast
Labyrinth of Cinema
Justice Society: World War II
Artist's Wife, The
Truman & Tennessee: An Intimate Conversation
Pusher III
Palm Springs
Devil Commands, The
Oak Room, The
Pusher II
Forget Everything and Run
Secrets & Lies
Red Moon Tide
Man with Nine Lives, The
Pusher
Pot Carriers, The
Black Bear
Don't Cry, Pretty Girls!
Portal
   
 
Newest Articles
Let Us Play: Play for Today Volume 2 on Blu-ray
Before The Matrix, There was Johnny Mnemonic: on Digital
More Than Mad Science: Karloff at Columbia on Blu-ray
Indian Summer: The Darjeeling Limited on Blu-ray
3 from 1950s Hollyweird: Dr. T, Mankind and Plan 9
Meiko Kaji's Girl Gangs: Stray Cat Rock on Arrow
Having a Wild Weekend: Catch Us If You Can on Blu-ray
The Drifters: Star Lucie Bourdeu Interview
Meiko Kaji Behind Bars: Female Prisoner Scorpion on Arrow
The Horror of the Soviets: Viy on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Tarka the Otter and The Belstone Fox
Network Double Bills: All Night Long and Ballad in Blue
Chew Him Up and Spit Him Out: Romeo is Bleeding on Blu-ray
British Body Snatchers: They Came from Beyond Space on Blu-ray
Bzzzt: Pulse on Blu-ray
The Tombs Will Be Their Cities: Demons and Demons 2 on Arrow
Somebody Killed Her Husband: Charade on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Maroc 7 and Invasion
Network Double Bills: The Best of Benny Hill and The Likely Lads
Network Double Bills: Some Girls Do and Deadlier Than the Male
Absolutely Bananas: Link on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Hawk the Slayer and The Medusa Touch
The Price of Plague: The Masque of the Red Death on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Seance on a Wet Afternoon and Ring of Spies
Chaney Chillers: Inner Sanctum Mysteries - The Complete Film Series on Blu-ray
   
 
  Paths of Glory The War Song
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: WarBuy from Amazon
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 2787 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
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
  Desbris M
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
  Sdfadf Rtfgsdf
   

 

Last Updated: