Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Brutal Absurdity of War - Paths of Glory

A couple of months ago, Adam Batty from Hope Lies floated the idea of doing a cross-blog project in which different writers would tackle one of the films of Stanley Kubrick, ostensibly to coincide with the release of several of his films on Blu-ray, but really just as an opportunity to celebrate one of the greatest film-makers who ever lived.

I chose to write about his 1957 anti-war movie, Paths of Glory, in which Kirk Douglas plays a Captain in the French army who has to defend several of his men against charges of cowardice following a failed attack which, the film makes painfully clear, was a suicide mission that the generals undertook for less than militarily sound reasons. It's a wonderful film that I had seen a few times, once because I was going through a completist phase in which I just had to see every film by every director I liked, and once a few years later when I read an interview with David Simon, creator of The Wire and Treme, in which he cited Paths of Glory as a huge influence on the tone and viewpoint of The Wire. I touch upon that in the article slightly, but mainly I talk about the humanist aspects of the film, which is probably Kubrick's most affecting, despite being as bleak as every other film he made barring Spartacus.

Anyway, here's the article itself, I hope you enjoy it. Please bear in mind that it goes into a lot of detail about the plot, particularly the ending, so anyone unfamiliar with the film should check it out before reading the article.