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Paths of Glory (1957)

France, the first world war. Both the Germans and the French have dug themselves trenches and are in fierce fights to conquer just a few metres. With so little changing it’s bound to be a long trench war. Colonel Dax (Kirk Douglas) of the French army receive order from his superiors to attack the “Ant Hill” and take it. Although Dax makes it clear that it is a suicide mission as more than half the soldiers will be killed before they are even near their target, his concerns are noted, but the attack still has to take place.

This movie, which is directed by Stanley Kubrick, manages to show the war in its rawest form. Everything looks dirty and the attack on the Ant Hill is shown in a similar way to Steven Spielberg’s opening scene in Saving Private Ryan. I wouldn’t be surprised if Spielberg has watched Paths of Glory for inspiration. Although this movie doesn’t show all the blood that Spielberg did, it is just as raw and frightening.
Paths of Glory shows that war really is a dirty “game”. As men retreated during the attack this dirty game continues as Generall Mireau is so angry about this he wants to set an example and orders some men to be put on trial for cowardice. They should have fought until they were dead.

The result is a movie with a lot of politics and the effect this has on the men. Kirk Douglas is the voice of reason during all of it and his speech before the court is powerful and has been shot beautifully with the camera moving along with him.

Although it’s a good movie and it has its place in the IMDB top 250, I was missing some depth to it all. I wouldn’t have minded if the movie would have been a bit longer to get to know the men on trial. The movie is definitely worth watching, but my expectations of it were a bit higher.

Score: 7

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