Paths of Glory

"Because you don't know the answer to that question. I pity you."

From Paths of Glory, 1957

During war, it is not only the people that suffered. The soldiers also suffered especially those that belong to the lower rank. They are puppets that are sent in front of the battalion to face the enemies and they are the first to die. Yet, they never complain and they can never complain because they do not have the power and authority to do so.

During the battle, the lower-ranked soldiers are forced to go ahead and fight the enemies and they risk their lives. The high-ranked officers especially the generals often remain in camp safe and away from the enemies. They just give orders and most of them cowardly stay in camp and do not go with their troops in the battlefield.

Despite the sad event, it is true and it does exist in many military camps. This kind of situation can be vividly seen in war movies. If you think that movies are all fiction, think again. Many films created especially the war films are based on a true story.

One film that vividly portrays the betrayal, deceit and sufferings of soldiers in camp is the film “Paths of Glory”. This 1957 film was directed by the famous director Stanley Kubrick. The Paths of Glory movie is based on the novel of the same title written by Humphrey Cobb.

The film centers on 1916 World War I where a general orders the execution of his men after they refuse to go on with an impossible mission. The lead stars of the film include Kirk Douglas, Ralph Meeker, Adolphe Menjou, and George Mcready.

The film starts with General George Broulard, a French general who commanded his subordinate, General Mireau to lead his men into an impossible mission and take Ant Hill, a well guarded German position.

Realizing that the planned attack is futile and any move to take this fortress will not create a positive outcome and will only put his men into danger, General Mireau discourages the plan. However when his superior, General Broulard mentioned a possible promotion if the attack is carried on, General Mireau tried to convince himself that there is a possibility of victory.

The attack to Anthill is carried out with the first group of soldiers coming back defeated and not even one of the soldiers who carried the attack even reach the German trenches. The rest of the soldiers refused to leave their position fearing for their lives from the heavy firing coming from the enemy side. General Mireau become enraged of his men's refusal to advance into battle and accused them of their cowardly act, commanded the artillery division to open fire to those soldiers who refused to continue with the battle hoping that this will launch them into the combat zone.

The artillery men refuse to fire on their own men unless a written order is given by the superior. More and more French soldiers retreat from the attack indicating that the assault to the German position is visibly failing. This failure leads General Mireau to execute 100 soldiers as an example believing that these soldiers were to blame of the failure and not himself.

It ended up badly with too many soldiers dying. Because of that, some of the soldiers refuse to carry out the impossible orders of the General. Enraged by the actions of his troops, the general randomly picks soldiers and kills them until such time that only few were left because the general had killed his own men. There were trials and executions done and it was done unfairly. The people with authority were never punished and many innocent soldiers were executed.

The Paths of Glory film was released on December 25, 1957 with a budget of $935,000.00. The movie runs for 86 minute. The Paths of Glory movie screenplay was written by Stanley Kubrick , Jim Thompson, and Calder Willingham. The Paths of Glory film earned Stanly Kubrick a most critical acclaim.

This film won a Jussi Award's Diploma of Merit. Many movie critics have high praises for the honest story. The movie became controversial especially in France and Germany and its release was held initially. It was only shown years after when the laws changed.

The Paths of Glory offers movie lovers a classic masterpiece and an unsentimental anti-war film. This film digs into the painful truth about the disparity between groups of soldiers in war – those who give orders and those who follow these orders. This shows how wide the gap is between the superiors who give the orders, who are isolated from the real ravages of the war and the soldiers who really crawl in the muddy trenches and fight to gain victory.

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