Paths of Glory (Stanley Kubrick, 1957, USA)

#95 in my list of the top 100 spiritually literate films is Paths of Glory. This is a film about moral boundaries, the nature of man, and justice. Paths of Glory is perhaps the most famous anti-war film that has ever been made and brings up many themes that Kubrick returns to in his later films. It is a masterful, bare bones, and raw film that takes place during the chaotic and uncertain World War I.

The blocking and sound may be bulky but the dialogue and war scenes are brilliant and ahead of their time. Kubrick was a master with film color and he uses the black and white back drop extremely effectively here. The color almost becomes a character itself highlighting the contrast of good and evil.

The main story involves a group of three soldiers who, after refusing to attack an enemy position, are accused by a general of cowardice which results in their commanding officer defending their actions. This film skillfully articulates Paul’s testimony in Romans of knowing right and wrong but being unable to do what is right. In the end, that message may be that in war, there is no right to be done. There are no winners or losers or guilty parties. Violence simply is never a victor.

Peace is an allusive beast and the more we fight for it, the farther we get from it. Through the trial of these three men we join the rest of the soldiers, in the final scene, who eventually discover that the greatest cowardice is violence towards humanity.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *