Monday, May 18, 2009

Paths of Glory

Stanley Kubrick, 1957, bw (8.8*)
This early film from master director Stanley Kubrick is one of the few classics of the anti-war war film genre. The story is about World War I, when the armies were locked in trench warfare. This was really a stalemate, as neither line could advance in the face of heavy machine gun emplacements and the defensive positions of the other side. This didn’t prevent the commanders from trying, wanting to show some progress or at least an effort.

Kirk Douglas, in one of his career-defining roles as a French captain, is to lead a charge up and out of the trenches, into no man’s land. He does so but his batallion is driven back by heavy fire and massive losses, eventually retreating back to their trench. This is seen as cowardice by the higher command, so they decide to pick three men at random from the unit and try them for cowardice. Adophe Menjou is superb as one of the superiors battling with Douglas. This is a gut-wrenching examination of the motivations and reactions of career officers in the face of the reality of war. The battle sequence is brilliantly shot, putting the viewer into the action and moving along with the soldiers. This film put Kubrick on the radar as a serious director of important and artistic works that make a statement about mankind.


Nothing Profound May 22, 2009 at 4:59 AM  

Loved this movie when I first saw it as a kid. One of the few at that time to portray war honestly and unheroically. My pick for greatest anti-war film would be Milestone's "All Quiet on the Western Front." Brutally realistic.

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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

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