Paths Of Glory Review

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France 1916: the French and German armies are dug into trenches in stalemate. Impatient French Generals order a suicidal assault on a strategic hill but when the operation ends in inevitable retreat the same Generals demand that three men are executed for


Banned in France until 1975 and unreleased in Spain under Franco, this timely re-release of Stanley Kubrick’s piercing attack on military hierarchy is unlikely to be welcomed by either Bush or Blair. Set in France in 1916, Kubrick’s film captures the war on two fronts: the no-man’s land where recruits scrap over inches and the glorious chateaux where the officer class angle for promotion.

Inspired by real newspaper reports, the 87-minute Paths Of Glory moves briskly from a misconceived attack to the court martial that follows. As the anger simmers, Kubrick’s camera remains detached, patrolling the trenches, pacing the courtroom. Terse and remorseless it may be, but the final flourish is perhaps the most fitting gracenote in all of cinema.

Star Kirk Douglas used to say he didn’t have to wait 50 years to know that Paths Of Glory would "always be good". He was right.