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4.8 out of 5 stars
96
4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 11 September 2016
A magnificent film revealing the hidden-from view history of misguided, premeditated, gruesome yet legalised slaughter during WWI. All those politically-inspired generals (on both sides) who, without regret, remorse or articulated thought, collectively authorised and promulgated the slaughter of human life within the water and rat-filled trenches and the kill-zone of no-man's land. Further, they did so without the least spark of genuine or humane interest in the real-life human carnage they were creating. And for what? Often, to simply advance a few hundred yards. Stanley Kubrick directs. Kirk Douglas stars & produces. The supporting cast are splendid as they create the very essence of the foolishness and hubris of many of the higher officers, mostly living out their war in a privileged and safely-miles-behind-the-lines position. All appear as realistically as they first did in Humphrey Cobb's novel; a book originally banned in France - as it came way too close to revealing the malevolent and pointless nature of what all the politically-inspired misfit leaders planned to do with their armies; that is to say, to send millions of ordinary enlisted men and junior officers to their certain deaths. It's now exactly 100 years since The Somme and Verdun during 1916 bled the British, British Imperial, French and German nations halfway to death. The hypocrisy of assembling a kangaroo military court to visit ludicrous charges of cowardice, accompanied by the certain verdict of the death sentence, upon randomly-selected soldiers who had failed to 'take an objective,' is bitter to watch, even now. A timeless masterpiece from Kubrick and a timeless lesson for all that demonstrates the overwhelmingly pyrrhic 'victories' of WWI. A must-have for your collection. I thoroughly recommend this film classic.
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on 10 June 2017
arrived on time and not damaged
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on 10 March 2017
Have loved this since I first saw it.
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on 16 May 2017
Thoughtful.
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on 5 June 2017
Fantastic arrived so quickly many thanks
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on 21 March 2017
Classic
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on 11 July 2017
One of the best films on the first world war. Great performance from Kirk Douglas and others.
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on 4 October 2016
Blu-ray picture quality much better than my Dvd versionPaths Of Glory [DVD] [1957]
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on 8 April 2017
I saw this film many moons ago and believe what people say, it is a classic. Just buy the film and make your own minds up.
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on 10 July 2015
It's interesting to think of "Paths of Glory" in the context of another great Kubrick move, "Dr. Strangelove." Both are "anti-war" movies, but the latter is much more to the point in making a case for modern war, while "Paths of Glory" harks back to earlier, often satirical, treatments of war by writers like Siegfried Sassoon and Erich Maria Remarque. The focus of the critique here is on the difference between the men in the trenches and the general staff giving orders that are absurd, given the reality of the military situation on the ground. Add to that, the fact that the non-combatant senior staff are all too ready to employ patriotic rhetoric to urge fighting men to do what they will never have to do themselves, and the idea of the moral emptiness of those giving the orders becomes clear -- and all the more when we learn, as we do early in this movie, that ambitions for promotion at ranks far beyond those of the fighting men are what drive the upper echelons of officers to demand suicidal efforts from the troops that they command from such a comfortable distance.

Kubrick has a great eye for that distance in "Paths of Glory." The chateau in which the upper echelons are housed seems untouched by war and to have maintained its pre-war elegance. There's even a dress ball late in the movie, which goes off in the context of an impending execution of three men accused of cowardice, and it's clear that the consciences of all of the general staff are quite untroubled by the executions, which have been ordered not because these particular men are guilty of anything but merely as an example -- "pour encourager les autres," as it were. The representatives of the general staff here are Major-General Broulard (Adolphe Menjou) and Brigadier-General Mireau (George Macready), and their conversations make clear the blend of vanity, venality, and short-sightedness that makes them cheerfully send men to their deaths, whether by firing squad or by by giving orders that will prove fatal to the men carrying them out. Between such figures and the men in the trenches is Colonel Dax (Kirk Douglas), very much in the fight when the absurd orders are put into practice, but also trying to mediate between the enlisted men and the generals, with an eye to doing the best for his men.

Standing in clear symbolic opposition to the chateau in the movie are the trenches themselves and the no-man's land into which the men in the trenches are expected to venture. The visual attention paid to both environments makes clear the moral dynamic of the movie, and the camera dwells just long enough on individual scenes to make them hauntingly real. It's a simple opposition, but it's in keeping with simple, humane, moral structure of the movie. As Corporal Paris, one of the men condemned to be executed, Ralph Meeker represents the basic dignity of the ordinary soldier without coming across as impossibly courageous or saintly. It's a moving performance. The scenes of the court-martial and the lead-up to the firing squad are staged very simply but to great visual effect, which I'll leave readers to experience for themselves without further comment.

The basic moral simplicity of the movie's structure generally avoids sentimentality -- and Kirk Douglas's stoical, quite understated performance goes a long way to establishing that. Only at the very end, where a German girl, "washed up by the tides of war," is called on to entertain a roomful of war-weary men who know that the next day might be their last, does the tone perhaps slip . . . but judge for yourself. It's a striking scene, but by that point in the movie, I thought a harder edge was called for. All in all, though, it's a very effective movie -- very well shot in black-and-white, and paced to perfection. It comes in at around 90 minutes, and you don't feel that it needed to be any longer.

"Dr. Strangelove" is a critique of a totally different military situation, one that viewers of both movies would understand as the kind of movie that a modern war required. But both feature and send up patriotic rhetoric, the ideology that undergirds it (much more explicit in "Strangelove"), and the distance from ordinary people's lives of the decision-makers. The chateau has become an underground bunker -- but the point is similar.
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