Paths of Glory
Dir: Stanley Kubrick
Scrs: Stanley Kubrick, Calder Willingham, Jim Thompson
Pho: Georg Krause
Ed: Eva Kroll
Prods: James B. Harris, Kirk Douglas, Stanley Kubrick
Prod Co.: Bryna Productions
Cast: Kirk Douglas, Adolphe Menjou, Ralph Meeker, George Macready, Wayne Morris
USA / 1957 / B&W / DCP / English & German / English Subtitles / 88min
Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of Humphrey Cobb's novel Paths of Glory is perhaps cinema's most scathing indictment of military absurdity. Opening in 1916, the film observes that two years of conflict have resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths for very little gain. Ambitious General Mireau (George Macready) orders Colonel Dax (Kirk Douglas) to advance his men on a well-defended enemy position.
As expected, the assault fails, losing hundreds of men in the process. On spying a second wave of soldiers refusing to advance, Mireau orders his artillery to open fire on his own troops. When his orders are refused, Mireau orders the court martial of three representatives from the company, on the charge of cowardice. The selection of these three defendants exposes further prejudices and petty rivalries within the ranks.
Kubrick covers an incredible amount of ground in a brisk yet powerful 88 minutes. The gaping divide between officers and enlisted men is epitomised by Mireau's sickening contempt for his own troops. "If [they] won't face German bullets, they'll face French ones" he exclaims, hastily assembling a kangaroo court that leaves Dax helpless to save them.
Now considered one of Kubrick's finest films, the film faced heavy criticism upon release, and was banned in a number of European countries. Unsurprisingly, France proved most sensitive, as they were currently embroiled in a similarly controversial conflict in Algeria. Paths of Glory wasn't screened to the French people until 1975, and not in Paris until the end of the decade.
Funded by Hollywood Foreign Press Association. UCLA Film and Television Archive e-recorded and cleaned up soundtrack. Produced a new 35mm magnetic track master and a new optical track negative. A final answer print is produced from two prints that formerly belonged to Stanley Kubrick to make sure that the contrast and density of the new prints is correct.
||Cinema, Hong Kong Film Archive
Post-screening talk with Geoffrey Wong
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