Stanley Kubrick’s 1957 antiwar classic, Paths of Glory, makes its arrival on 4K Ultra HD by way of Kino Lorber Studio Classics.
The 4K UHD release comes nearly 12 years after the film received a Blu-ray release through The Criterion Collection. If you’re a fan of bonus content, it’s best to hold onto your original copy. This is among the biggest differences between the Kino Lorber and Criterion releases.
Paths of Glory is based on Humphrey Cobb’s novel of the same name. In the film, Colonel Dax (Kirk Douglas) is the commanding officer of the 701st regiment during World War I and his soldiers have orders of a suicidal attack to take Ant Hill. The attack, to absolutely no surprise, ends up an epic failure. One wave ends up in mass casualties so the next wave refuses to follow orders. Col. Dax does his best to rally the troops but no movement. Meanwhile, General Paul Mireau (George Macready) orders his own troops to be fired upon but the artillery commander refuses this order without any written confirmation. Nothing says having your own back like having written confirmation on hand!
Col. Dax, a criminal defense lawyer when he isn’t fighting for his country, defends his troops after they get court-martialed. Could you blame him? Yes, Germans were the bad guys during WWI but it’s not good optics for a general to send his own troops to certain death, let alone firing on his own troops. Rather than Mireau getting his way to try 100 of them for cowardice, efforts are taken to lower the number to just three of them. It turns into a joke. Dax even says: “Gentlemen of the court, to find these men guilty would be a crime to haunt each of you till the day you die.”
For a film that focuses on the French army, one of the biggest problems is that lack of French accents. It’s one of those things that can be very distracting. Whenever English-speaking people portray people from another country, they should make an effort to speak with an accent. We see this time and time again in cinema. Is this one of those cases where you just suspend belief and go with it? Maybe, maybe not. Your mileage may vary, of course.
Language issues notwithstanding, Stanley Kubrick certainly knows what he’s doing with Paths of Glory. It’s not as great as Dr. Strangelove when it comes to satirical farce but it’s still up there. I’m still making my way through the Kubrick filmography but war is a theme that shows up repeatedly. There’s certainly a lot to be said about the subject in this film. Even though it’s about the French Army, Kubrick still approaches it from an American perspective. Without Kirk Douglas, it’s unlikely that the film reaches cinemas.
- Brand New Dolby Vision HDR Master – From 4K Scan of the Original Camera Negative
- NEW Audio Commentary by Novelist and Critic Tim Lucas
- Theatrical Trailer
- Optional English Subtitles
DIRECTOR: Stanley Kubrick
SCREENWRITERS: Stanley Kubrick, Calder Willingham, and Jim Thompson
CAST: Kirk Douglas, Ralph Meeker, Adolphe Menjou, George Macready, Wayne Morris, Richard Anderson, Joe Turkel, and Timothy Carey
United Artists released Paths of Glory in theaters in January 1958. Grade: 4/5
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