Movie Review: No 51. Paths of Glory

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Movie Review: No 51. Paths of Glory

I’ve come to a sudden realisation. All this time while sitting through countless gangsters, wars and westerns I have thought “It’s not you, it’s me”.

“What is wrong with me that so many people enjoy these films and I’m left with eyes wide shut?” (Stanley Kubrik joke – I kill me!)

I have no problem with guts and gore… so it can’t be that. I often enjoy films with plenty of action… so it can’t be that.

Turns out this whole time there’s been one simple missing link that has held me back from enjoying these films…

Law.

No, no, I’m not talking about a general sense of lawlessness – there’s nothing more exciting than a dastardly villain! I’m talking about law itself – legal eagles and pudgy judges!

Ten years with my favourite detectives Stabler and Benson has taught me that you simply cannot have order without law. It’s like the laws of physics or something… man. I’m biased of course – but then, so are all the best judges!

Paths of Glory, on the other hand, strikes a beautiful balance between order, law, guts and glory. It’s a war movie – World War I to be exact – but it’s so much more than that too.

General Broulard: There are few things more fundamentally encouraging and stimulating than seeing someone else die…You see, Colonel, troops are like children. Just as a child wants his father to be firm, troops crave discipline. And one way to maintain discipline is to shoot a man now and then.

It’s historically inaccurate – bordering on downright offensive – but then what do you expect when you let Americans build a film around a “World” War they chimed in on at the last minute? To Americans, it seems, all it takes to play a Frenchman is a jaunty moustache and a British accent. Try saying that out loud in France or Britain and you’re liable to start another one!

What the movie does do is delve into some very anti-military sentiments. I can only imagine an American director braving something so thoroughly un-PC in this day and age. I’d give it 0.0002 seconds for the Twitter-based death threats to start rolling in.

As I watched the film I couldn’t help but be struck by the familiarity of the lead actor. “He reminds me of Michael Douglas!” I announced to Andy. Of course, imdb is never far from my side when I’m on my movie quest and it didn’t take long for me to learn that the man was in fact… Kirk Douglas! It seems the apple does not fall far from the tree in that family.

While Douglas, as Colonel Dax, cuts a fine soldierly figure, Lieutenant Roget is quite possibly the most unlikable soldier ever portrayed; Even moreso than the villainous and appropriately scarred General Broulard. Roget is the French Army’s answer to the cowardly lion. Funnily enough, the actor who played him (Wayne Morris) was actually a highly decorated soldier in real life.

I have been modest with my rating but please don’t let that discourage you from seeing this film. I thoroughly enjoyed it because, you know… chicks totally dig scars (and yes, it’s real!)

7.5 pumpkins.

Have you seen ‘Paths of Glory’? Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments below.

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