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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Indictment of War...Affirmation of Humanity, 26 Sep 2005
By 
Robert Morris (Dallas, Texas) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Paths Of Glory [DVD] [1957] (DVD)
It has been almost 50 years since this anti-war film appeared, one which was banned in France until 1970. It is based on Humphrey Cobb's novel. Directed by Stanley Kubrick and starring Kirk Douglas who also produced it, the film examines a fictional (but nonetheless wholly believable) situation during World War One when French troops are ordered to achieve an impossible military objective: Climb and secure the "Ant Hill," a heavily-fortified German position. Of course the troops are decimated. Whom to blame? General Broulard (Adolph Menjou) who gave the order? The troops' general, General Mireau (George MacReady), whose career ambitions overcame his doubts about the order? The officer (Colonel Dax) who led the attack? General Broulard gives a second order: Select three of the survivors, charge them with cowardice, give them a perfunctory military trial, and then execute them. Their commanding officer is Colonel Dax (Douglas) who had been an attorney in civilian life. He is ordered to be the defense counsel. After the inevitable verdict, the three representatives are executed by a firing squad.
Kubrick presents all this on film as if it were a documentary of actual events. Appropriately, he filmed it in black-and-white, in part to dramatize the obvious juxtapositions of right and wrong, good and evil, justice and injustice, etc. The battlefield carnage is extensive but not gratuitous. For me, the insensitivity, indeed inhumanity of the two generals -- far removed from combat in luxurious comfort -- is far more upsetting than the assault on the "Ant Hill." The men who followed orders and lost their lives or their limbs may have died in vain but at least died with honor, if not glory. Kubrick leaves absolutely no doubt about the generals who sent them into battle. Colonel Dax understands the need for military discipline. Orders must be followed. He eventually realizes that no matter how logical and eloquent his defense, the three men are doomed as were so many of their comrades were while climbing the "Ant Hill." Dax also realizes Broulard and Mireau will never be held accountable for the order nor for denying any responsibility for its tragic consequences. Dante reserved the worst ring in hell for those who, in a moral crisis, preserved their neutrality. Kubrick ensures that Menju and MacReady portray Broulard and Mireau not as neutral accomplices but as agents of evil: a more dangerous adversary than the one their troops face in battle.
Is conscience among war's victims? That is certainly not true of Dax. He did everything he could to save the three men. He leaves absolutely no doubt in the minds of Generals Broulard and Mireau what he thinks of them, both as officers and as human beings. However, they are his military superiors and the war continues after the executions. I mention all this by way of suggesting a context for my opinion that the final scene in the cafe has a very important purpose: to communicate Kubrick's reassurance to those who see his film that even amidst war's death and mutilation, the very best of human instincts somehow prevail. They cannot be defeated by the "Ant Hill," nor by Broulard and Mireau and their obscene abuse of military justice. In my opinion, that is what Dax realizes in the cafe as he and other soldiers listen to a terrified girl sing. And that is the final "message" which Kubrick seems determined to leave with his audience.
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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Early Glorious Effort from The Genius, 25 May 2006
By 
Mr. S. E. C. Norman "pink52" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Paths Of Glory [DVD] [1957] (DVD)
Exciting, enthralling, action-packed and moving, this is one of Kubrick's finest, and a brilliant war film to rankle alongside and even surpass the likes of 'A Bridge Too Far' and 'All Quiet on the Western Front'. The story of an ill-fated French attack on an invulnerable German position during the First World War, where the ordinary soldier is blamed instead of the blundering general may be a cliche by now, but it is so beautifully shot, written and told that it is a timeless classic.

The script and story is excellent, and particularly well delivered by the likes of Douglas, Macready and Meeker, who all fill in excellently. But the star of the show is undoubtably Kubrick, whose direction of the attack with a panning camera following Douglas and his men with shells exploding all around is a just a treat for the eyes. In turn, shots of the trenches, following the general from the front as he marches through the trenches with the military drumbeats in the background as he inspects the weary men, or the close ups of gritty, fearing soldiers are just excellent. If you like Kubrick, or even if you just like great films, then you'll love Paths of Glory.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Paths Of Glory" on BLU RAY - Compatibility Issues For UK Buyers With The US Release...Also Available in Europe..., 28 Feb 2014
By 
Mark Barry "Mark Barry" - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
As you've probably gathered most of the reviews are for the 'DVD' version of Stanley Kubrick’s 1957 Black and White “Paths Of Glory”. And the ‘BLU RAY’ of it is available in the States and other European territories. But which issue do you buy if you live in Blighty?

Unfortunately the uber-desirable USA Criterion release is REGION-A LOCKED - although it doesn't say so on Amazon.
So it WILL NOT PLAY on most UK BLU RAY players unless they're chipped to play 'all' regions (which the vast majority aren't).
Don’t confuse BLU RAY players that have multi-region capability on the 'DVD' front – that won’t help.

Luckily the European (with foreign language all over the rear of the box) is REGION B - so that will play the English language film on UK machines. There are other Euro Double Packs but I’m not sure if they use the cleaned up print Criterion achieved.

Check you’re player’s region coding acceptability if you want the pricier Criterion release (which is said to have a stunning transfer)...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Paths Of Glory" on BLU RAY - Compatibility Issues For UK Buyers With The US Release...Available Also In Europe..., 28 Feb 2014
By 
Mark Barry "Mark Barry" - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
As you've probably gathered most of the reviews are for the 'DVD' version of Stanley Kubrick’s 1957 Black and White “Paths Of Glory”. And the ‘BLU RAY’ of it is available in the States and other European territories. But which issue do you buy if you live in Blighty?

Unfortunately the uber-desirable USA Criterion release is REGION-A LOCKED - although it doesn't say so on Amazon.
So it WILL NOT PLAY on most UK BLU RAY players unless they're chipped to play 'all' regions (which the vast majority aren't).
Don’t confuse BLU RAY players that have multi-region capability on the 'DVD' front – that won’t help.

Luckily the European (with foreign language all over the rear of the box) is REGION B - so that will play the English language film on UK machines. There are other Euro Double Packs but I’m not sure if they use the cleaned up print Criterion achieved.

Check you’re player’s region coding acceptability if you want the pricier Criterion release (which is said to have a stunning transfer)...
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Kubrick's Best, 18 Sep 2006
By 
This review is from: Paths Of Glory [DVD] [1957] (DVD)
Superlative anti-war film on a par with Renoir's "La Grande Illusion" and Milestone's "All Quiet On the Western Front" sees Kirk Douglas(in one of his best performances) as a captain defending three soldiers on charges of cowardice after they are made scapegoats for a suicidal mission that fails.Shattering critique on the insanity of war is incredibly moving especially in that final scene,one of the greatest in cinema history.This was Kubrick at his greatest before he followed David Lean into bloated epics.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A true anti-war film, 10 Sep 2007
This review is from: Paths Of Glory [DVD] [1957] (DVD)
Too many war films claim to condemn their subject matter with one hand whilst making pornographic use of battlefield bloodshed with the other. Kubrick's second studio picture, banned in France until 1975, was truly controversial, but not because of the violence.

The plot is simple: General Broulard (Adolphe Menjou) asks General Mireau (George Macready) to command his division to storm the Ant Hill, an unassailable German target across no-man's land. Sniffing promotion, Mireau agrees. And so it is down to Colonel Dax (Kirk Douglas) to undertake the impossible mission. When it fails, Mireau blames Dax's soldiers, and three of them are chosen to be tried for cowardice. The trial turns out to be Dax's second impossible mission.

At under 90 minutes, it's remarkable how many themes are explored. And these are the big ones, too: courage, belief, fear and, most significantly, humanity. Dax is a moral man in a war-torn world where humanity does not exist - and not simply on the battlefield, but in the general's headquarters. All hope seems spent when Broulard confronts Dax in one of the final scenes, and is surprised to find that the colonel's actions truly came from a position of morality. But then some light in the darkness: a German singer (Susanne Christian, who would later become Kubrick's wife) touches the souls of his men; observing the scene reminds Dax that hope does still exist - just not in war.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Breakthrough for Kubrick, 15 Aug 2000
This review is from: Paths Of Glory [VHS] (VHS Tape)
This film is undoubtedely the film which proved to hollywood that Stanley Kubrick was the most promising director of his era. Paths of Glory is a powerhouse of a film delivering both a great story, outstanding acting and fantastic direction. If anyone is unconvinced of this watch the long tracking shots through the trenches. Timothy Carey is one of the most under-rated actors ever. As the bumbling Pvt. Ferol his performance is better than his last two Kubrick films. Kirk Douglas is less convincing as Col. Dax but this is still one of his better performances (his best is in Spartacus). The whole film looks great with great sets and camera shots and this is all down to Kubrick's precision directing. Thanks to the critical response to this film Hollywood began noticing Kubrick as a hot, young director. And how did Kubrick thank Hollywood? By directing, at the time, the most expensive film of all time ($12m) and the one true great epic film of the fifties and sixties. Kubrick then left America for England and never returned. Making his next eight classic films all in England. If you doubt the power of this film it was banned in France for eighteen years after it's initial release.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best films ever made! Essential viewing, 23 July 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Paths Of Glory [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Don't be put off by the fact that this appears to be another "war film". The scope of the film stretches much further and delves deep into the widest range of human emotions.This film is an absolute classic and is based on real events during WWI when a group of innocent soldiers were picked at random to be executed for showing cowardice. Kirk Douglas gives one of his best performances and this might be Stanley Kubrik's best film. Essential viewing for anyone who loves great films
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15 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stanley Kubrick's film on the futility and madness of war, 2 July 2004
By 
Lawrance M. Bernabo (The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Paths Of Glory [DVD] [1957] (DVD)
In 1916 France Commander Broulard (Adolphe Menjou) wants General Mireau (George Macready) to have his battered division take the "Ant Hill", an impregnable German fortress, promising Mireau a promotion and another story if he succeeds. Mireau orders Dax (Kirk Douglas) to lead the charge, which is a complete failure. When soldiers are pinned down by German artillery and machine gun fire Mireau orders his own artillery to fire on their own trenches, screaming, "If those sweethearts won't face German bullets, they'll take French ones!"
"Paths of Glory" has a deserved reputation as a great anti-war film but I think that director Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of Humphrey Cobb's 1935 semi-fictional novel is a rather specific indictment of both a particular military and a particular war. The suicidal attack in the first act of the film was loosely based upon the battle for Fort Douamont during the Battle of Verdun, where over 300,000 French soldiers lost their lives. The assault, doomed to fail before it began, is ordered by French generals more concerned with prestige and promotions than the lives of their troops or the actual prospects for success. In the wake of the disaster three men are selected to be tried and then executed for cowardice. They are defended in court by their commander, Colonel Dax, the lone voice of reason speaking out against the insanity of what has happened.
This film was banned for almost twenty years in France and it is an indictment of the French military on a par with those films that have touched on the infamous Dreyfus case. I have trouble extended this indictment beyond these French generals, not only because in cinematic history there is this sense of this being standard practice for the French military but because hypocritically sending troops to such senseless death is rare in American military history. A.P. Hill sending Confederate troops in a series of useless charges to teach them a lesson at the Battle of Franklin comes to mind, but I remember most American generals as taking blame and responsibility for such slaughters (e.g., Burnside at Fredericksburg, Lee after Pickett's Charge, Grant with regard to the final charge at Cold Harbor).
But there is also a sense in which we identify this sort of waste of young soldiers with World War I. In cinematic terms the obvious comparison is to "Gallipoli," where British troops are having tea on the beaches while Australian troops are gunned down in a needless charge ordered by stubborn British generals (another category of military leaders easy treat with disdain given how they are portrayed in the movies). The Civil War has provided amble evidence that troops charging entrenched or fortified positions was horribly futile and yet fifty years later European armies were still sending thousands of men against machine guns (the iconic weapon of the first World War). As the opening narration explains, "Successful attacks were measured in hundreds of yards - and paid for in lives by hundreds of thousands."
The title of the book/film comes from a line in Thomas Gray's "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard," where the poet writes, "The paths of glory lead but to the grave." This might be an anti-war film but it still shows the heroism of the troops as Kubrick uses a tracking shot to follow the Dax and his soldiers across No Man's Land against the German fort. After all, these men are fighting an army that has invaded their country, so there is a sense in which the title is inappropriate simply because these men are not involved in a quest for glory.
The film was shot in Germany and cinematographer Georg Krause provides one of the sharpest black & white films you have ever seen. The clarity is almost daunting and it is impossible not to think that it is not but another part of Kubrick's grand design. As for the performance by Douglas I would agree with the general consensus that this is his finest performance, even over what he would provide for Kubrick three years later in "Spartacus."
In the end Kubrick makes a final argument for the universality of human experience when a German singer (Susanne Christian, who was Christiane Kubrick wife of the director) is forced to sing a song for the French troops whose jeers turn to tears. There are, relatively speaking compared to other wars, relatively few films about the First World War. But it is rather impressive when you start listing the ones that immediately come to mind ("Wings," "All Quiet on the Western Front," "Sgt. York," "Gallipoli") how good they tend to be and how many of them are, at their essence, anti-war films. For that, I think the credit for linking that particular war with the idea of the futility of war clearly belongs to Erich Maria Remarque, author of "All Quiet on the Western Front."
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ready to Kill More Germans, Soldier?, 17 Sep 2013
This review is from: Paths Of Glory [DVD] [1957] (DVD)
I must have watched this film about 20 times so this review is one I can say is by an expert in knowing if not judging the picture. It is undoubtedly a great picture but it does have a few flaws as all great art does. Firstly, Kirk Douglas is brilliant. His performance is as 'controlled' as any great soldier's performance would be, but 'cracking' briefly and dramatically and unforgettably at a key moment. All the supporting actors are also fascinating from Ralph Meeker (another unsung hero) to the priest whose name I forget and Timothy Carey (the 'social undesirable' who in life was similarly an outsider it seems). Also, Adolphe Menjou and George Macready brilliantly 'stilted' in many scenes as generals might have been. The trenches and the battle scenes are fantastic for their time, largely, and the famous long panning shot of the Battle of the Anthill (!) are superbly achieved. After many hours viewing there are a few moments which don't work so well. Adolphe garbles his lines a bit and the sound is not always precise. You could argue that that diffuse echoey (and therefore unclear) dialogue in the chateau is meant to be there as it signifies the airy attitude of the generals to the troops who suffered for the generals' 'ambition'. Also there is the coda which can on first acquaintance just move you to tears, but after 20 viewings might seem odd in some respects: 1) there are an awful lot of very very old men in uniform - maybe that is correct but it seems odd and: 2) the humming doesn't convince me - I know they might not be able to sing in German, but listen carefully and somehow the scene is perhaps more embarrassing than poignant? I only say this as a great fan of this great film - so I am being picky. 3) Sound is an issue. However, despite the tiny flaws, a great achievement with five or six really great actorly 'moments' and the brilliant 'walk down the trenches' which leads to the attack - ten minutes or so of cinematic genius.
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Paths Of Glory (Region B)
Paths Of Glory (Region B) by Stanley Kubrick (Blu-ray)
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