Paths of Glory

Paths of Glory ★★★★★

“If those little sweethearts won't face German bullets, they'll face French ones”

If Full Metal Jacket is a film about the dehumanizing side of war, then Paths of Glory is Stanley Kubrick’s portrayal of humanity in war. Thirty years before his Vietnam movie, Kubrick painted an intimate portrait of the small soldiers victims to the big powers of war. The big actors like George Macready and Kirk Douglas convey the different sides in this battle; the straight idea of the bigger picture that Macready holds and the human defense of the individuals in his army that Douglas shows. As the perspective is shifted to the soldiers down in the mud of the trenches, Kubrick skillfully manages to balance the personal with the feeling of the collective being victims.

In the battle-scenes, Kubrick assaults the viewer with sound and a punishing intensity, but the most unsettling and tension-filled part of Paths of Glory lies in the dialogue. The discussions about these soldiers as potential losses being sacrificed is a striking reminder of the exploited position the soldiers are in and the eventual courtroom scene is gut-wrenching tension. A war-movie without much action Paths of Glory is a milestone in the genre, bringing an armada of discussions about what’s right and wrong in the heat of war — and healing the wounds with a strong humanity just as relevant today.

Stanley Kubrick

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