Thursday, November 08, 2007
Paths Of Glory
Part of my WWI film clip celebration for Veteran's Day. Kirk Douglas, a great actor, a great individual. He was one of the few in Hollywood courageous enough to hire blacklisted writers and directors. Now if only there was a court martial or impeachment for...
PATHS OF GLORY is among the most powerful antiwar films ever made. The story takes place in 1916 France, as the French command orders an exhausted unit to wrest control of an anthill from the Germans--expecting a casualty rate of 60 percent. The battle--during which the Germans are never seen, indicating that the French are their own worst enemy--turns into a bloody massacre. Looking for a scapegoat, General Mireau (George Macready) orders Colonel Dax (a never-more-intense Kirk Douglas) to select three of his men to face a court-martial and possible firing squad for the troops' cowardice. Directed by Stanley Kubrick, PATHS OF GLORY, based on the novel by Humphrey Cobbs, is a gut-wrenching, unforgettable drama. Every scene is awash in grays, covered in doom. Kubrick marvelously contrasts the ornate palace where the generals sip their cognac with the ramshackle trenches where injured men stumble about, demoralized and shellshocked. Douglas gives a tough, gritty performance; his tense sparring with the high command features sharp, biting dialogue. The entire cast is outstanding; watching so many men die for no reason is maddening. Kubrick captured the Vietnam War in FULL METAL JACKET, the cold war in DR. STRANGELOVE, the Seven Years' War in BARRY LYNDON, and a slave uprising in SPARTACUS, but PATHS OF GLORY is his crowning achievement when it comes to depicting the devastation, both physical and psychological, that war wreaks on the individual--as well as the state.