- It has aesthetic connective tissue with Ophuls (again The Shining) and a spirit of middle-finger cinema related to Luis Bunuel- a film of the highest artistic quality and I’m leaning towards masterpiece status (first time viewing in a decade—far too long)
- From Kubrick: “Highest of all I would rate Max Ophuls, who for me possessed every possible quality. He has an exceptional flair for sniffing out good subjects, and he got the most out of them. He was also a marvelous director of actors.”
- 265 on TSPDT all-time
- It’s the announcement of Kubrick as a major artist- I like Killer’s Kiss and The Killing is another step forward but this is it for Kubrick— I may even, perhaps, be willing to have this slide by Strangelove with another viewing—the aesthetics are so damn impressive— he’s telling a story with the tracking shots (both in the trenches and in the officer’s chateau) and with the detailed mise-en-scene rich in their individual beauty and formal juxtaposition
- “It does however contain examples of one of his favorite visual strategies, the extended camera movement that unfolds to reveal details of a set or location, and continues long after we expect it to be over”- ebert
- Four key shots— two of the soldiers and two of the officers— the tracking shot in the trenches- it puts you with them- leaves you no choice- sullied, battered, bloody and muddy…. There’s another long tracking shot of the battlegroup—ravaged and filled with death… the third shot is done often actually and it’s of the officer’s chateau filled with lush furniture, libraries and beautiful tapestries… the key tracking shot here is of the officers dancing as we have a man let Adolphe Menjoy know that Kirk Douglas is waiting to meet with him
- A meditation on bravery and cowardice
- Open battle ground set pieces and mise-en-scene look like a beautifully ugly Sci-Fi dystopia
- Form and variation with Douglas walking the trench—not only with Kubrick’s connection with tracking shots, the The Shining, but with the difference in character here in this film—Kirk Douglas walks the trenches once and it’s very different from George Macready walking it once—Macready is great here playing a truly vile character
- Douglas is a miracle and this is his best career work—powerful, intelligent, filled with such believable goodness and moral compass—his “you can go to hell” line and delivery is one of acting’s great moments—it’s an atom bomb—I get goose bumps every time
- “Paths of Glory” was the film by which Stanley Kubrick entered the ranks of great directors, never to leave them. When I interviewed Kirk Douglas in 1969, he recalled it as the summit of his acting career: “There’s a picture that will always be good, years from now. I don’t have to wait 50 years to know that; I know it now.”—again from Ebert
- Kubrick dwells on the opulence of the chateau and I think this is where Bunuel comes in- he’s not aiming for comedy (nor is Bunuel most of the time) but he’s making a statement—it’s clear this is a contrast with the trenches
- The film’s mood is depressing- very dark- contemptuous of the army, patriotism and humanity—it’s a rigged game- Stone and JFK, Bunuel—it’s a flamethrower (film was banned in France for like 20 years)—during the execution one is passed out one is crying (and I’m not even going to touch the possible religious undertones here with the three men essentially on a cross)
- Gloriously beautiful light through the prison window
- Classic music—dancing officers—the beautiful library set piece in the Chateau
- 88 minutes- it’s unbelievable tight unlike almost all of his work afterwards sparring Strangelove
- The coda is baffling and powerful at the same time—it’s a bit of a nod to All Quiet on the Western Front with the faces of soldiers but Kubrick takes aim at these men, nationalism and patriotism as well—feels very disparaging and nihilistic half-way through the scene (as you were identifying with these lowly soldiers the entire film and hating the elite officers)—and then the scene settles and shifts again- and they become humans again singing or humming along. This also mirrors the singing to send Full Metal Jacket
- A masterpiece
I love this movie so much. Easily one of Kubrick’s best. Extremely underappreciated by most people
Would it be wrong for me to call this Kubrick’s best movie from his war trilogy? I think Kubrick never topped himself after this. Only 2001 is better. You might think having POG as the 2nd best Kubrick movie is too ambitious but you make all the arguments I would. The tracking shots, the fading edits, the acting, statement of war and just look at the 4 pictures you posted in the beginning. That’s proof of its visual beauty too.
I disagree, I think A Clockwork Orange is much better, it was a much more ambitious movie and Kubrick was generally characterized by that. I also think that he is superior in acting and above all style, he has a lot, no one has been able to match such a controversial film artistically, you have Anticrist, Salo or the 120 days, which are artistic and controversial, but not on an artistic level, the film is not lost its power to surprise, Paths of Glory is not even the best movie of 1957, certainly I also think that The Shining is better (but it’s close)
Well I kinda dislike ranking movies. A clockwork orange is superb too. So if you have clockwork orange above POG I have no problems. Both are MPs in my opinion.
Did you know, according to Woody Allen, this is the 2nd best American movie behind Citizen Kane and it’s in his top 10. I dont have too many problems with that tbh.
What is Woody Allen’s top 10?
400 Blows, The
Bicycle Thieves, The
Vittorio de Sica
Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, The
grande illusion, La
Paths of Glory
Seventh Seal, The
@Azman— Good work here from you! Thanks for sharing. You certainly wouldn’t be wrong on your first statement/question here. I think it is superior to Strangelove and Full Metal Jacket.