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Paths of Glory
Crime, Drama, War
IMDB rating:
Stanley Kubrick
Kirk Douglas as Col. Dax
Ralph Meeker as Cpl. Philippe Paris
Adolphe Menjou as Gen. George Broulard
George Macready as Gen. Paul Mireau
Wayne Morris as Lt. Roget / Singing man
Richard Anderson as Maj. Saint-Auban
Joe Turkel as Pvt. Pierre Arnaud (as Joseph Turkel)
Christiane Kubrick as German singer (as Susanne Christian)
Jerry Hausner as Proprietor of cafe
Peter Capell as Narrator of opening sequence / Judge (colonel) of court-martial
Emile Meyer as Father Dupree
Bert Freed as Sgt. Boulanger
Kem Dibbs as Pvt. Lejeune
Timothy Carey as Pvt. Maurice Ferol
Storyline: The futility and irony of the war in the trenches in WWI is shown as a unit commander in the French army must deal with the mutiny of his men and a glory-seeking general after part of his force falls back under fire in an impossible attack.
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720p 1184x720 px 4474 Mb h264 192 Kbps mkv Download
DVD-rip 512x368 px 701 Mb msmpeg4 1167 Kbps avi Download
Brilliant fifties anti-war movie
Banned in France till 1975, Kubrick's Paths of Glory (1957) is an unusually powerful and incisive cinematic discourse relating to the futility of war. In fact it would be almost unbearably grim without the performance of Douglas as Colonel Dax - the liberal defender of three innocent French soldiers accused of cowardice on contrived trumped-up charges by the over-ambitious and arrogant General Mireau (George Macready). Such social issues as class differences and military hypocrisy in the French High Command are emphasised. Douglas' Dax character gives the film its only light and warmth. In appearance he looks impressive - fair-haired and lantern-jawed, he sports his regiment number '701' on his collar and cuffs and wears a prototype wristwatch. Along with 20.000 Leagues under the Sea (1954), Ulisse (1954)and Light at the Edge of the World(1971) it is one of his most compelling performances although it lacks the Nietzschean undertones of the aforementioned adventure and sword and sandals films. Time Out describes Douglas' performance as being 'astonishingly successful' and refers to the very interesting 'diagrammatic tracking shots' relating to the battle scenes.
An anti-war movie hitting closer to home.
I consider Paths of Glory as one of the most memorable of Kubrick's entire output. The most remarkable aspect of this pioneer anti-war film is the complete absence of any persons depicting the "real" enemy. Therefore, the significance of the film lay not so much in its anti-war message, but in its brilliant expose of the "monsters within" the general staff, superbly acted by Adolphe Menjou and George Macready. The message here is that the enemy lurks much closer to home. In most war films, whether they glorify or condemn the carnage, there is rarely any venturing at all into the darker side of the politics. This film is a tour de force in its unabashed depiction of just how misguided is the quest for glory as an end in itself; and in the portrayal of the leaders who would shamelessly sacrifice others for their own self aggrandizement. Truly, one of my all time favourite movies.
Still relevant
I saw this film for the second time when I lived in France on an exchange. I had seen it in High School, and I honestly paid no attention to it. It was a whole different scene when I saw it the second time. It is really amazing how relevant this film is to today. I was absolutely amazed that this film was made in the glory days of the Hayes system, because the ending is not a happy one. It isn't violent, but it is disturbing. That is the great thing about Kubrick's films. I find it unbelievable that the story takes place almost a century ago, but the story is exactly the same. There will always be highly placed authority figures who make huge mistakes, and there will always be someone else who will pay dearly for it.
Kubrick is not of this world
The sheer brilliance and emotion that kubrick puts into this film will leave you with an undescribable feeling long after you've watched it. He seems to say that all of the paths to glory in this world was tainted with injustice and the unjustly sacrifice of true heros. You have to see the movie to believe it, and to see it is to remember it forever.
Early Treat From Kubrick
I thought this was an interesting film, albeit agenda-driven, but one that kept my attention. The characters are interesting, the story moves along well considering its mostly talk, and it's nicely directed by a young Stanley Kubrick. Looking at this on a high-def DVD, it was magnificent in spots. Kubrick's camera angles and photography, as usual, were a treat for the eyes.

Although Kirk Douglas gets top billing, I thought George Macready was the unofficial "star" of this film, playing the obsessed "General Mireau." Douglas' picture dominates the cover of the DVD and is featured in most of the stills seen here on the IMDb home page of the movie. He was good - don't get me wrong, but Macready deserved at least equal billing.

Whatever, the movie flows nicely and is sure to invoke an emotional response from any viewer. The only problem I saw was that it was a bit too manipulative. Kubrick's obvious hatred for those in military authority (see "Full Metal Jacket" and "Dr. Strangelove") is so blatant in here that the "bad guys" are almost cartoonish, uttering statements that are so ludicrous it strains credibility. Speaking of credibility, if this film was re-made today you wouldn't have American actors playing all the French roles.

Some supporting actors in the film, were either famous actors like Adolphe Menjou, Ralph Meeker and Richard Anderson or ones with faces you don't forget, such as Timothy Carey and Emile Meyer. Their characters added a lot of tension to this story.

Perhaps the biggest surprise (at least to me) was discovering that the German singer at the end of the film was Kubrick's wife! Overall, a recommended film to watch.
real, frightening, important
This movie is a great spectacle. Since it is a true Kubrick film the score and sound effects are equally memorable and effective. As this is a war movie shot entirely from the ordinary soldier's perspective it is shocking. This is a result of true fear in the spectator's mind rather than explicit violence on screen. The presence of death feels real. The story unfolds without any waste of celluloid. Kubrick explains the logic of the characters out of the war-circumstances they find themselves in without establishing the characters over a feature length. Even when it is clear how the film would end after watching it by half, the story telling gains more momentum . Having seen this film only once on a big screen I was surprised almost everybody cried in that movie theatre with the story's unexpected epilogue. These final frames explain how and why millions of people would go out killing each other and on the other hand why they should not. This movie is perfectly understandable because it is brilliantly made in any way with outstanding actors. One may argue whether or not this is one of the best movies of all times. I do believe it is one of the most important movies of all times regardless of film making alltogether. Let me summarize: real, frightening, important.
If those little sweethearts won't face German bullets, they'll face French ones!
an absolutely incredible depiction of the insanity and terror of ww1. paths of glory is a film in which entertainment values are high and flaws are (very) low. the film starts with an over voice telling you the events that have happened leading up to the part you are about to see. It then comes into to army generals discussing the matters of an offensive on an anthill not far from there current position. this scene goes on as they discuss one of them (paul,played by paul mac ready) being promoted and to arrive at the battlefield as a battle commander what leads from that is an intense battle in witch there forces (french) are torn to pieces. one of the most exciting and intense scenes is this and is shot very well, with a slowly moving shot of the whole battle field, moving forward as they advance. at the climax of this battle the shelling becomes intolerable and there battalion is forced to retreat. The battle commander then commands that the position in which they are retreating to be shelled. this order is not carried out however due to the ridiculous of it and there fore is in an angry rage. in this rage he threatens to have them arrested and shot. after the defeat (kurk Douglas) the commander of the battalion is told by paul to have a commander of each regiment pick a soldier to be executed to give an example to the rest of them that cowardliness is unacceptable. after much hesitation, a powerfully acted court and an intense scene of waiting for death they are shot.then ending with a captured German girl singing to a bunch of drunk soldiers and with it bringing some peace to this horrible war ,then showing close ups of tears running down the bewildered soldiers face as they realize what beauty is again as they have obviously forgot. this film is incredibly powerful and even by todays standards is high. one of Kubrick's best.
A strong anti-war statement
Stanley Kubrick's 1957 war film, "Paths of Glory" based on a novel of the same name by Humphrey Cobb is more of an anti-war statement. Hence, calling it a 'war film' wouldn't be right, as it does not lie in the same category as other war films, plot-wise.

The film is set during World War I. The story focuses on the war between the French and the Germans. General Mireau (George Macready) sends his division headed by Colonel Dax (Kirk Douglas) on a suicidal mission to take over a prominent German position called "Anthill". Initially Mireau is reluctant to carry out this task, but is enticed by an offer of promotion from his superiors. With this in mind, he practically forces Dax to begin with the mission. Col. Dax, also aware of the danger associated with the mission, points the same out to Mireau but Mireau does not relent.

Sure enough, the mission ends in disaster and what follows next is the crux of this powerful story.

What happens when these men in the very same army, defending the same country, from the same regiment turn against each other? What happens when some superior officers get greedy and selfish and stop valuing human life, more so, the lives of their own soldiers? "Paths of Glory" goes deep in the psyche of these men, both superiors and subordinates and makes a strong statement on what war does to them.

"Paths of Glory" was just a modest success commercially, I've read. It comes as a surprise, considering the screenplay by Stanley Kubrick, Calder Willingham and Jim Thompson is spell-binding, to say the least. Kubrick directs with his touch of genius and creates a tremendous impact. The first scene of attack on Anthill is so masterfully shot, you actually feel you are in the field of battle! Ditto for the rest of the film when things take an unexpected turn for some of the less fortunate soldiers. Every frame of this picture is gripping, right 'til the final one.

Kirk Douglas delivers a fabulous performance as Colonel Dax. His helplessness and the growing frustration about the greedy and corrupt army officers and the overall futility of the system is so convincing, it creates a lasting impression. This is one earnest and unforgettable performance by the legendary actor.

George Macready lends a great supporting act as the selfish, cut-throat General Mireau. So do others, including Wayne Morris, Ralph Meeker, Joe Turkel and Timothy Carey.

A special mention here, of Mrs. Kubrick (Christiane Kubrick) who makes an appearance for a short scene to sing the haunting German folk song, 'The Faithful Hussar'. She appears in a scene towards the end in what could be one of the best and most haunting endings I've ever seen in film.

"Paths of Glory" may not be as popular as some of Stanley Kubrick's later films, but it is definitely one of his best.
The paths of glory lead but to the grave
"All Stanley's life he said, 'Never, ever go near power. Don't become friends with anyone who has real power.'" - Christiane Kubrick

"Paths of Glory" begins with the playing of the French nation anthem - an ironic touch - and then quickly introduces us to its key players: Colonel Dax, a well intentioned military man, and General's Broulard and Mireau, two elderly careerists who treat the soldier's under their command with callous indifference.

As the film progresses, director Stanley Kubrick will use two recurring visual motifs - men in trenches and men affixed like mere pawns to a chessboard - to hammer his dour view. The film's soldiers are always trapped, not only constrained by duty, class and national responsibility, but by physical, political and cosmic forces. When they try to rise above or beyond the filth, they're promptly shot down.

Dax, the film's hero, is himself ultimately impotent. All his protests mean nothing. Whether he leads his men to success or failure, they still lose. The end of the film has Dax standing helplessly on the sidelines, watching as his men are executed for failing to take an insignificant Ant Hill. This is WW1 in microcosm, aristocrats, monarchs and burgeoning "democracies" risking lower class limbs for land and hoping desperately to cling onto whatever power is available come the 20th century's new order.

Even as far back as "Paths of Glory", Kubrick's form reflects content. Plot and character coalesce into a very concrete, very formal image of the world. In "Killer's Kiss" and "The Killing" this was strictly a generic world, but "Paths of Glory" launches itself in a different field, that of history, warfare and army politics.

The film's subject is unambiguously visualised in its main setting: a huge château converted to an army command post. Because the decor becomes the story, Kubrick's actual story is not simply told, but barely told. Given a narrative context that is so simple, characters are also defined in very basic ways. The pawns live in the mud, the kings in the ornate château. The kings scapegoat and shift responsibility, the drones take the blame and bullets. Everything else becomes a manifestations of decor or camera movement. Characters are imprisoned, parodied, paired off and squared away. The prime examples are the generals, Broulard and Mireau, lookalikes in uniform, two ruthless men who toy with each another and who lead each other on in the guise of concern for their troops. Luis Bunuel, himself fond of satirising the ruling elite, would adore the film.

Whilst discussing taking the Ant Hill, a series of brief tracks follow our players as they pace marble floors. Each character pursues a different path, but they all arrive at the same end. Broulard proves to spin the more effective web because he is the more clear-sightedly cynical. Mireau in the end becomes a zealot of self-deception. Dax is the liberal-humanitarian shuttlecock passing between them, he has no double but is himself "doubled", negotiating his superiors' ambitions first as a commander on the battlefield then as a lawyer in the courtroom.

Dax, as officer and battlefield soldier, is also a hero of two worlds, the château and the trenches. As "hero", his function is to serve as the meeting point of two perspectives: the objective vista of history and the subjective confusion and terror of trench warfare. Significantly, Dax is Kubrick's only conventional hero outside of "Spartacus" (also starring Douglas). Kubrick's later films would abandon conventional protagonist/antagonist dualities.

Camera movements are clear but subtle. When Mireau inspects the troops in an early scene, Kubrick's camera tracks backwards before him, down an interminable trench. When Dax later tours the trench, the same objective track is inter-cut with one from his point of view as he passes through the ranks. Kubrick's point is clear. Dax sees outward and is aware of, or empathises with, the men around him. Mireau sees inward, fixated on himself and his own goals. Later, he will fire upon his own ants.

This interplay reaches its zenith with the execution of three soldiers. Here the anguished perspectives of the victims, one of whom is played by the always brilliant Timothy Carey, are inter-cut with a tracking shot which itself seems to shift in intensities as it passes in front of a hierarchy of observers: from the indifferent troops to the press corps to Dax and the guilty corporals. Kubrick's extended tracking shots have usually been put down to the influence of Ophuls (to whose death Kubrick dedicates one scene in "Paths of Glory" to), but the articulation of point of view through tracking - an emotional montage - is closer to Hitchcock.

This form of emotional dialectics is present throughout the film. Watch how the generals play number games, tabulating the statistics of probable causalities before battle, bargaining over how many "examples" should be shot, whilst the men below them cry in the trenches and prison houses, vividly aware of their own fickle lives.

Unlike Kubrick's later works, "Glory" is resolutely unambiguous. His dialogue is caustic, blunt and his images likewise, impeccably composed, with stark lines and fluid but muscular tracking shots. Elsewhere, the film is almost robotic, marching towards its climax like a relentless machine. "Glory" was also the first feature to utilise an all percussion sound-track, a fact which lends Kubrick's imagery an even greater sense of foreboding.

10/10 – Masterpiece.
The paths of glory lead but to the grave
In 1916 a French regiment is ordered to attack "the Anthill", a strongly fortified German position. The attack proves a disastrous failure; the French suffer heavy casualties and none of their soldiers succeed in reaching the German trenches. When a second wave of troops refuse to attack, their commanding officer General Mireau desperately orders his artillery to open fire on them to force them onto the battlefield. The artillery commander, however, refuses to do so without a written order. To try and deflect blame from himself for the failure of the offensive, Mireau orders three soldiers from the regiment, chosen at random, to be tried for cowardice. The task of defending the accused falls to Mireau's subordinate Colonel Dax, a lawyer in civilian life.

The film was controversial when it was first released in 1957; it was banned in France, where it was regarded as a slur on the honour of the French Army, until 1975. It was also banned for a time in Switzerland and Franco's Spain and (remarkably) in West Germany. Films with a strongly anti-war theme were perhaps unusual in the fifties, a period during which American (and British) war films were mostly set in World War II and were generally patriotic in tone, with war shown as something heroic. World War I, which could not so easily be turned into a glorious fight for freedom, was largely ignored.

"Paths of Glory", however, was based on a novel by Humphrey Cobb which had been written in the very different political climate of 1935, when following the slaughter of 1914-18 pacifism was more in fashion. At first sight, Cobb's title looks deliberately ironic because he depicts war as something far from glorious. To those who recognise its source, however, it appears not so much ironic as grimly appropriate. It comes from Thomas Gray's poem "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard", and what Gray wrote was "The paths of glory lead but to the grave".

The film makes its case against war in two ways. The first is by emphasising the futility of war. The only German we see is a female civilian captured by the French; no German soldiers appear at all. I think that this was a deliberate decision by director Stanley Kubrick; the French soldiers seem to be fighting not against men like themselves but against some nameless, invisible and inexorable force of nature, able to cut them down at will. They appear to have no more chance of capturing the Anthill than they would of capturing the moon.

The second way in which Kubrick makes his case is by emphasising the gulf between the generals and the man under their command. This is not just a difference in social class- indeed, this element is not emphasised as much as it is in some British productions about the war. It is more a gulf in the way in which they experience the war. The general staff, safe in their chateaux away from the lines, have no real idea of the hardships and dangers confronting those under their command.

Moreover, the generals do not even seem to be motivated by patriotism or a belief in the rightness of their cause. They are much more concerned about self-advancement and their own brand of office politics. When Mireau is first ordered to take the Anthill he demurs, believing that the objective can only be attained, if at all, at an unacceptable cost in French lives. It is only when his superior, General Broulard, intimates that a successful attack might be rewarded with a promotion that he changes his mind. When Dax complains about Mireau's behaviour, Broulard assumes that this is all part of a ploy to obtain Mireau's job; it never occurs to him that Dax might be sincere about trying to save the lives of three unjustly accused men.

This was not the first film to be directed by Kubrick, but it was perhaps the first to bring him to public notice. The battle scenes are well done, even if they lack the realism of more modern war films such as "Saving Private Ryan" or the recent "Dunkirk". The trial scenes, during which it becomes increasingly uncertain as to whether Dax, for all his forensic skills, will be able to save the three accused. Kirk Douglas is excellent as Dax, a sane and humane man in an insane and inhumane world, and he receives good support from the rest of the cast. Particularly good is George Macready as General Mireau, a man driven literally mad by unbridled ambition to the point where he is prepared to sacrifice hundreds of lives, not for the honour and glory of France but for the honour and glory of General Mireau.

The film is perhaps less well-known today than some of Kubrick's later efforts, but I would regard it as his first masterpiece, equal or superior in quality to virtually anything in his later work, including his two later anti-war films, "Dr Strangelove" and "Full Metal Jacket". Douglas was also to collaborate with Kubrick in his second great masterpiece, "Spartacus". 9/10
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