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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 26 September 2005
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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on 25 May 2006
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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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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on 16 August 2016
Anti-War film of the highest calibre and certainly one of Kirk Douglas's best films and portrayals starring as Col.Dax, Squadron Cmndr and Defender. Three soldiers are made scapegoats when an ambitious and deceitful General Mireau (villanous George MacCready) orders that they face a Courts Martial for cowardice when they fail to take an objective. I have watched this film many times and although there is little in the way of fighting the enemy or battle scenes shown the 'action' is produced when their show-trial commences. Adolphe Menjou is at his most malevolent when toying with the soldiers lives.They in turn receive a 'trial' where the odds against them are insurmountable and biased. The film is full of known faces, full of Hypocrisy, Irony and Pathos and one can only imagine that the acts depicted were played out many times during this and other Wars and battles.
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on 29 August 2015
A beautiful blu ray edition for this masterpiece. Paths of glory grow better and better over the years. It is not just an antiwar film, it is a film about how individual gets strangled by mass, authority and the system. So the sptopics are not different from overall Kubrick filmography. Here the use of sound, photography, dialogues, camera moves, makes it not just a work of art, but are functional to convey the terrible solitude and tragedy of indivudal left alone in the dark of human morality and collective historical dynamics. An it is also a moving film, emotional and terrible
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Stanley Kubrick's Paths of Glory is holding up rather well these days, in fact it's as pertinent and relevant as ever.

It's 1916 and the French and German armies are in opposing mud trenches, when the French are ordered to undertake a suicidal assault on a German held hill, many of the soldiers are quick to realise it's an impossible order to see through to its conclusion and retreat, something which brings charges of cowardice from the military hierarchy. Someone must take the fall...

Withdrawn from circulation in France at one time, unreleased in Spain as well, Paths of Glory is a shattering indictment on military hierarchy. On those General types who watch from afar through telescopic sights as men and boys are led like lambs to the slaughter, then off they go to their dinning rooms to gorge on wine and wholesome meat, the stench of rotting flesh as bad on their breaths as it is out there in no man's land. But it's OK for the war effort, while there might even be a promotion for some lucky soul in nice trousers...

A two-parter, the film was adapted from the novel written by Humphrey Cobb. The first half follows the craziness of the attack, the horrors of war brutally realised as Kubrick and cinematographer Georg Krause bring out the worry and simmering anger that jostle for the soldier's souls. The camera is cold and calculating, thus perfect for the material to hand, it leads the viewers - with skillful fluidity - through the bleakness of the trenches and the desolation of no man's land, the former a foreboding place, the latter an atrocity exhibition as bodies get flayed and shattered, while others retreat with limbs or sanity barely intact.

Second part shifts to a legally based procedural as the Generals conspire to make an example of those who retreated. Cowardice and a dereliction of duty apparently means the firing squad must save the integrity of the army. Patsies are lined up, but their Colonel (a superb Kirk Douglas) wants to defend them, there's much sweat, tears and anger, accusations hurled, and mistakes once again proving insurmountable. Which leads to the astonishing finale, heartbreaking whilst inducing fury, and crowned by an elegiac song that brings tears for characters and viewers alike.

A monochrome masterpiece full of technical skills, towering performances and writing to die for, Paths of Glory, candidate for one of the greatest anti-military films ever crafted. 10/10
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on 18 September 2006
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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on 10 September 2007
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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on 15 August 2000
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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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)...
0Comment| 5 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

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