Paths of Glory – Stanley Kubrick

I am going to watch those films in the IMDB Top 50 I have not seen before.

I started today with Paths of Glory directed by Stanley Kubrick. It’s a 1957 film set in World War I staring Kirk Douglas. It highlights the terror and absurdity of war, and how it can make man stop thinking of people as people but mere statistics for attempted victory. The attempted victory in this case was impossible from the start, the order handed down the chain of command, initiated to impress politicians and the press and accepted for personal glory by the General. The film makes a mockery of systems of authority and the inherent possibility for corruption and saving one’s own face at the expense of others. Of course it is the lowest who are most human and lose the most. I was struck at how little choice there is for questioning or rebellion once in an army or war situation. Some of the acting is a little wooden, as often the case in films of this era, but it is expertly crafted and the dialogue well written. The battle scenes are intense giving a real feel for life in the trenches and the horrors of no-man’s-land. The title comes from a poem by Thomas Gray “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard”:

“The boast of heraldry, the pomp of pow’r,
And all that beauty, all that wealth e’er gave,
Awaits alike th’inevitable hour.
The paths of glory lead but to the grave.”

Poster:

Incredible POV scene in the trenches, leading to the fateful push:

This is about as ‘action’ as the film gets.

Trailer:

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