Tuesday, December 7, 2010

#213 Paths of Glory (1957)


Director: Stanley Kubrick

Cast: Kirk Douglas, Ralph Meeker, Adolphe Menjou, George Macready, Wayne Morris, Richard Anderson, Joe Turkel, Christiane Kubrick

Stanley Kubrick's Paths of Glory could be one of the most poignant, blood-boiling examinations of the irony of war ever made. With the sole intention of exposing the senselessness of murder–not only to the enemy but to the human race– this film manages to so thoroughly give rise to your emotions that it's almost impossible not to be bursting through the screen with anger.

When three French men go on trial for supposed cowardice in face of the enemy (as an example to their regiment for not winning a battle), their colonel (Douglas) rises in their defense. Explaining that their mission was impossible and they only retreated to save their own lives, he attempts to sway the court marshall toward their innocence. But the egotistical, power-hungry General Mireau (Macready) has set the wheels in motion for these mens' executions, and as with many large institutions– it's impossible to stop the momentum of anything, no matter how wrong.

The corruption, hypocrisy, and mindless ordering/following are highlighted full-stop in this film, and it is only in the last few moments of the entire feature that we witness any glimmer of hope for otherwise. While this film acknowledges the possibility for change and innocent ignorance of man as a race, it also firmly supports the ideology that we are doomed to be the mechanism of our own demise.

This film will have you thinking in a broad scope, and it masterfully will call upon your emotions. Kubrick, as always, manages to entertain while also push the limits of your pleasurable movie-going experience into the realm of the surreal, or in this case, sadly real.

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