Stanley Kubrick's first great film established the epic style that has served him so well since. This is a harrowing and still very effective antiwar film that ranks with Lewis Milestone's epic ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT in its power. The split between officers and men has never been
so sharply delineated. The film was banned in France when it first appeared for eighteen years because of its anti-militarist stance.
Col. Dax (Kirk Douglas) is the commander of the battle-decimated 701st Infantry Regiment of the French Army during WWI, dug in along the Western Front in a brutally stalemated war. It is 1916, and the Allies have been struggling to overcome an equally determined German war machine for two years.
Dax's hope that his regiment will be relieved from front-line duty is destroyed when corps commander Gen. Broulard (Adolphe Menjou) orders Gen. Mireau (George Macready), the divisional general in charge, to make an all-out attack against an impregnable German position nicknamed "the Ant Hill." The
battle scenes showing the suicidal attack on the Ant Hill are devastating and brutally authentic, the barrage through which Dax leads his men (Kubrick's camera moving inexorably through the carnage) is a hurricane of death. Three soldiers are selected to be court-martialed unjustly to serve as
scapegoats for the military humiliation. Dax is the officer charged with their defense but the powers-that-be confound his efforts.
This is a director's film: Kubrick profiles naked power and the effects thereof with a visual excitement seldom seen on the screen; his attitude toward the actions he portrays is always felt. One particularly striking and effective strategy is the tendency to utilize mesmerizing but inhuman
tracking shots for the trenches and battlegrounds while using elegant circling camera movements for the comfortable surroundings of the officers' chateau.
Though its condemnation of war is overwhelming, PATHS OF GLORY offers more optimism than is usual for the pessimistic Kubrick. The film may be read as a testament to human courage, compassion, and spirit that battles valiantly for survival despite the efforts of tyrants to vanquish principle and
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- Review: Stanley Kubrick's first great film established the epic style that has served him so well since. This is a harrowing and still very effective antiwar film that ranks with Lewis Milestone's epic ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT in its power. The split between… (more)
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