LOG: Paths of Glory

Is Paths of Glory the Talkiest War Movie Ever? I can't think of a talkier one. In fact, I think it would actually make an excellent stage play. Watching this for the first time, Paths of Glory feels like Dr. Strangelove's more serious older brother, hearkening back to an earlier time when war (even when waged by blind cowards) was still thought to be conducted with some kind of fleeting sense of valor. By the time of Strangelove (released three films and seven years apart in 1964,) the war mongers had devolved into full-on, raving comic madmen, and there was nothing left to do but laugh at them. The photography is much like Strangelove too, with big cavernous rooms and echoing voices, beautiful in black and white. But somehow, Paths is actually breezier.

Sometimes I think the act of disdainfully dismissing Stanley Kubrick as an overhyped, dickhead blowhard has become even more of a right of passage for film fans than simply discovering him in the first place (watching Rose McGowan of all people smugly bitch about him on TCM made me seriously want to slap her.) Folks, 9 of his 11 major features are in the imdb top 250. Maybe Kubrick is overwatched and underscrutinized. But of all the other directors who might appear on that dubious, imaginary list of so-called "sacred cows," I'll take him over Coppola, Tarantino, or Spielberg any day.

Paths of Glory reinforces the sad truism that evil warmongers are as timeless as war itself, and that killing eachother or getting ourselves killed in their service is completely stupid and unacceptable. It's heroic, manipulative, agenda-fueled filmmaking at it's best.

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