Paths of Glory

1957

Action / Drama / War

95
Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 94%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 95%
IMDb Rating 8.4 10 144579

Synopsis


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Cast

Kirk Douglas as Col. Dax
Ralph Meeker as Cpl. Philippe Paris
Richard Anderson as Maj. Saint-Auban
Joe Turkel as Pvt. Pierre Arnaud
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
551.57 MB
1280*720
English
NR
23.976 fps
1hr 28 min
P/S 5 / 85
1.39 GB
1776*1072
English
NR
23.976 fps
1hr 28 min
P/S 10 / 34

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by HotToastyRag 7 / 10

Riveting and well-acted

If you liked All Quiet on the Western Front, you'll love Paths of Glory. Told in the same anti-war tone, Stanley Kubrick's film conveys a stark, bleak atmosphere in his black-and-white footage, Georg Krause's stoic cinematography, and Malcom Arnold's minimalistic score. It follows the planning and potential execution of a suicide mission in World War One. If you can use your suspension of disbelief and accept the fact that no one in the movie has a French accent, you'll be in for a very riveting, well-acted film.

Adolphe Menjou and George Macready are big-wigs in the French army, and they plan out a mission for their boys in the trenches that has virtually no likelihood of success. Both men are hard-hearted and treat men in uniform like chess pawns. Emotional and physical wounds are often ignored, but when Kirk Douglas hears of the plan, he doesn't want to go through with it. He actually cares about his soldiers and doesn't want to order them to their death.

Keep in mind that this is a war drama, so don't pop this in if you're in the mood for a light afternoon flick. This movie will absolutely get you riled up, and if you're already anti-war, it might become one of your favorites. It had the misfortune to be released the same year as The Bridge on the River Kwai, which swept the Oscars in 1958 and took space in audiences' memories in the years to come. You've probably heard of Paths of Glory, but unless you're a film buff or student, you might not have seen it. If you're up for a very heavy, depressing movie, it's absolutely worth watching.

Reviewed by Woodyanders 9 / 10

Needlessly sacrificing other's for one's own glory

Stanley Kubrick's potent anti-war classic comes down super hard on the intrinsic cruelty and unfairness of the bleakly efficient military machine in which the arrogant top brass are more concerned about enhancing their lofty statuses and saving face with the public than they care about the grim plight of the hapless common foot soldiers who are sent to certain deaths by being forced to carry out mpossible missions for the sake of said top brass's own overinflated egos and self-advancement within the ranks: One can't help but feel infuriated when the ruthlessly ambitious General Paul Mireau (a marvelously haughty portrayal by George Macready) orders his own men to be shot when they fail to follow through with taking a heavily fortified area. Indeed, Kubrick astutely captures not only the brutality of war, but also the frequent absurdity and futility of same in both the harrowing combat scenes and at the shattering climax in which three innocent men are executed just so those in charge can prevent themselves from feeling disgraced.

Kirk Douglas contributes a wonderfully impassioned performance as the idealistic Colonel Dax, who makes a game, albeit fruitless attempt to defend several men under his command when they are brought up on charges of cowardice. Moreover, there are strong contributions from Ralph Meeker as the sarcastic Corporal Philippe Paris, Adolphe Menjou as the smug and calculating General George Broulard, Wayne Morris as craven drunk Lt. Roget, Richard Anderson as hard-nosed prosecutor Major Saint-Auban, Joe Turkel as the noble Private Pierre Arnaud, and Timothy Carey as sniveling undesirable Private Maurice Ferol. Kudos are also in order for Gerald Fried's rousing score and Georg Krause's beautifully fluid black and white cinematography. Essential viewing.

Reviewed by travisyoung 10 / 10

Which Path Will You Take?

War produces the true natures of men: some lose their humanity altogether and become monsters, while others embrace a kind of moral courage that cannot be defined or explained. So it's astonishing that a considerably intellectual filmmaker like Stanley Kubrick could distill this principle in such a visceral way.

Make no mistake, Paths of Glory is a film of high concept and blinding idealism, but composed simply and without plot complication. It's World War I: Upon the orders of his superior officers, Colonel Dax (Kirk Douglas) leads his entrenched regiment of the French Army into a battle to take "The Anthill", an impenetrable German stronghold. It's a suicide mission, and everyone knows it. Of course Dax protests that the attack would only weaken the French Army, but General Mireau (George Macready) does not care. Indeed, Mireau has made the same conclusion, only the promise of a juicy promotion (by the equally unscrupulous General Broulard (Adolphe Menjou)) and his own Machiavellian ambition have already persuaded him to command others to certain and purposeless death.

Unlike the amoral executives who command him, Dax does not lounge in extravagant mansions and eat gourmet meals with fine silver; he lives in the trenches with his men, a lawyer compelled by war to root in a festering wound of dirt and death dug by politicians who have never gazed upon a battlefield. As he dutifully proceeds to prepare the attack, fear abounds among the soldiers he leads, with deadly results.

It is here that the film begins to challenge how we define courage. We see Dax advance while hundreds of others die horrifically around him. Some do not leave their trenches, so intense is the firefight on the battlefield. A safe distance away, Mireau orders his artillery to fire upon their own army to force them out of the trenches. Meanwhile, without support, Dax falls back into the trenches in a rain of dead bodies without making it to the Anthill, unable to convince anyone else to climb back out with him into oblivion.

So galvanized is Mireau's rage at the prospect of losing his promotion that he demands one hundred men from the regiment be executed for cowardice. General Broulard convinces him to merely court martial three men chosen at random, and even allows Colonel Dax to defend them against the death penalty. The trial is a farce to say the least, and although the outcomes are sadly predictable, that doesn't mean the final journey we take with this movie is less than we can anticipate.

Paths of Glory is a technically perfect film. As the camera seamlessly glides through the twists and turns of grimy trenches, horror and fear visually unfold like flowing tapestries along a magnificent human hallway. That nature and realism dominate the production design does not make the lens any less subjective or the images of war in all its boundless evil less beautiful. The booming cacophony of the battle scene has a aural texture that damns us to imagine the true nightmare actual combat must be. The acting is superb as well, every actor delivering his best work, Kirk Douglas in particular; despite his inclination for ham and bravado, Douglas' characterization of Dax is intense yet authentic and anything but a caricature. Colonel Dax's ability to maintain composure while evincing contempt and moral outrage is a script requirement, but the horror sculpted upon Douglas' face when confronted with the evil of men and the spiritual burden revealed in his posture and gait are the work of an artist.

As I said, this would seem at the outset like a philosophical film crafted by a director who demands his audience intellectually grapple with the moral implications of what is provocative material to say the least. Perhaps it does accomplish that; certainly, if you watch this movie and fail to think about the message the film delivers, you are not only brain dead but morally bankrupt as well. But please watch the final scene, a brief coda after the main plot of the movie has concluded: An achingly beautiful German girl held as an enemy captive is made to sing before the rowdy French troops. As the war begets monsters, sometimes men of real courage are able to rediscover their own humanity. Any movie can make you think. But in that last moment, if you can see more than a singing peasant and weary soldiers, if you are able to hear more in the simple folk song than the lyrics, then you, like Dax, can discover that the only true path to glory is not in war or ambition, but in hope and innocence that sometimes may only be found in the most unlikely of places.

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