Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Paths of Glory. B+
It's been a little while since I saw Paths of Glory, and I feel like I should watch again before making an honest and complete estimation of it. I loved the first half. Was completely blown away by the haunting atmosphere and the performance by George Macready's as General Paul Mireau. Mireau could be called the source of conflict in the movie because he orders a suicide mission on a German position called Ant Hill. His motives aren't military, but personal, as he is told at the beginning of the film that he'll get promoted if the attack is successful. Mireau parades through the French trenches famously asking his men if they're ready to kill more Germans. Mireau uses men as a tool for his own success, much like Aldo Guiffre as the Civil War Union Captain in The Good the Bad and the Ugly. They throw men into combat like they're machines. The only difference is that one is influenced by alcohol, and the other by power. Paths of Glory shifts settings drastically after the men refuse to attack and three soldiers are sentenced to death, labeled by Mireau as "cowards." The second half is much more psychological, as the three men, one from each company, await their death. I liked the first half so much, but I think it ended too soon. That is, the scenes involving the attack on Ant Hill. It all moves pretty swiftly, and the movie ends running for just over 80 minutes. Is this too short? It's hard to say. If the first part was dragged out, then the second half in the prison wouldn't have fit in as nicely. As it is, both segments get about the same time. The flow is nice and the mood very consistent. My biggest problem with the movie is the ending because Kubrick always ends his films memorably but fails to do so here. It's a strange finish and almost awkward in comparison with the rest of the film. But I loved that first half. It's as good as anything Kubrick ever did.