Recently I’ve been lacking what this blog was originally meant to be: to discuss each of Kubrick’s 13 features. Considering I started this blog weeks ago and only up to his fourth film I should get a move on.
In 1957, Kubrick released his anti-war film, “Paths of Glory”. Produced by partner James B. Harris and starring Kirk Douglas the film focuses on Douglas’ character Colonel Dax; a French Commanding Officer during World War One who is whose infantry refused to complete a suicidal mission in the trenches a ordered by French General Broulard (Adolphe Menjou).
Since The Killing failed at the box office, Dore Schary who was head of production for MGM liked the film and offered Kubrick and producer James B. Harris a chance to make some films from a bunch of novels and scripts that MGM had in there possession. Not liking any of the script that he read, Kubrick remembered reading the novel Paths of Glory and asked Schary to make it into their next project. schary thought the film wouldn’t do well on a commercial scale so Kubrick and Harris decided to see if Kirk Douglas would be interested in a early version of the script. Douglas agreed to star and United Artists agreed to back it.
The film also contains a scene with Christiane Harlen, Kubrick’s future wife where they met on set of the film for the very first time.
The film was based on the novel of the same name which was published in 1935. It was loosely based on the story of four French soldiers during World War One who were executed for mutiny. The French Army did carry out execution during the war for cowardice and the major point of the film was to point out the selection of completely random soldiers to be put to death for punishment of the infantry entirely.
When Paths of Glory was released is gained some box office success but Kubrick did not receive much critical acclaim as a director. Nevertheless the film remains to be one of his best and favoured by people such as Tom Cruise and Steven Spielberg to be their favourite Kubrick film.
When the film opened in Europe is received a great deal of controversy by military personnel for it portrayal of the French Army. The French government had strict instruction on the distributor for the film United Artists to keep the film out of France. The film wasn’t shown there until 1975.
In the final scene of the film, a young German girl is forced to sing in front of loud and drunk French soldiers. The woman playing the role is Christiane Harlen.
One of the soldiers on trial for crime of cowardice.
Famous tracking shot that Kubrick used for Colonel Dax to navigate through the trenches.