Paths of Glory

Paths of Glory ★★★★★

A terribly frustrating film, in the good sense. Paths of Glory is about the unnecessary tragic loss of life in war, but specifically those self-inflicted by one side. True humanism and placing value in the lives of others is only found in a character or two -- those in positions of authority send people to die for their own gain, and are happy to have them killed if they ever disobey. It's the corrupting nature of power absolutely out of control. Even when someone fights to save the lives of others, people are genuinely shocked that he isn't doing it for his own gain and disparage his "idealism." As a result this is quite a bleak film, and while it doesn't present the entire military as fully cold and indifferent to the pointless deaths around them, those that do care seem completely incapable of making any meaningful difference. It's really quite powerful. While I might sometimes not completely disagree with the idea that Kubrick films can be a little distanced and less emotional (not as a complaint but just a particular style), Paths of Glory is absolutely an affecting experience.

As a technical piece of film-making it's also basically flawless. The grimy trenches and overwhelming noise and chaos of the battlefield work in perfect contrast to the excessive luxury of the chateau. George Macready plays the most disgusting "villain" and yet everything he does makes sense, when placed in the context of what his character believes and values. There are also many standout moments from a cinematographic perspective -- the walk through the trenches is perfectly ominous. Even some of the camera angles and framing during the court segment, especially the off-center closeups, are really visually interesting. All around Paths of Glory is just an excellent work of art and, honestly, is probably my favorite Kubrick film. It's been several years for some that I need to revisit, though...

Daisoujou liked these reviews