Trench warfare

‘Paths of Glory’ provides social commentary on war, in particular, trench warfare.

The film “Paths of Glory” (1957) is set during World War I, at a time when trench warfare had the allies and the axis at a tactical stalemate. French General Broulard (Adolphe Menjou) orders his subordinate, General Mireau (George Macready), to attack a German trench position, the Ant Hill, which the allies have tried to acquire to no avail.

As an incentive, Broulard hints (not so subtly) that acquiring the Ant Hill could earn Mireau a promotion. Though Mireau knows that the task is virtually a suicide mission, he orders his subordinate Colonel Dax (Kirk Douglas) to carry through with the attack.

As expected, the mission ends in chaos — but how will the military handle it?

One of Stanley Kubrick’s first films, “Paths of Glory” is wholly different than what a fan of his later films might be more accustomed to. While “2001: A Space Odyssey” and “The Shining” boast cinematography that reaches far beyond their time, “Paths of Glory” certainly does feel like it was filmed in the 1950s — which is to be expected, because it was.

In fact, I didn’t even realize this was a Kubruck film until doing a little more research, but now I’m glad I’ve seen it and can add another to the list of films I’ve seen from one of my favorite directors.

“Paths of Glory” is being shown at the Watauga County Public Library as a part of the Third Thursday film club from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. March 17. The film runs 88 minutes and is unrated.

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