Photo courtesy of GoneMovies.com
Why it’s famous:
One of the most politically controversial movies of its time, Paths of Glory offers the audience an experience that is half military drama and half legal thriller. Featuring an undeniably brilliant Kirk Douglas it’s a memorable movie that doesn’t need a demonized enemy or wild explosions to communicate its anti-war message.
General Broulard: There are few things more fundamentally encouraging and stimulating than seeing someone else die.
Soldier 1: I’m not afraid of dying tomorrow, only of getting killed.
Soldier 2: That’s as clear as mud.
Why you haven’t seen it:
Paths of Glory is one of those movies we tend to forget. It was known less as a modern must-see and more of a diamond in the rough, especially for its era. If you are not a World War buff, or the type to visit the Bytowne Cinema on its unfortunately unfrequented Monday movie nights, you most likely haven’t encountered it because you just never knew about it.
Why it might be tough to get through:
If you make it a habit to watch modern war movies, you will be struck by the low levels of gore, the small number of explosions, and the low bullet count. If historical dramas aren’t your thing, it might also take you a while to situate yourself in this movie and really get into the characters’ logic and mentality.
Why you should see it anyway:
There’s a reason why this flick makes most moviegoers’ top film lists. It offers incredible storytelling and an unbelievably engaging 88 minutes that you won’t regret devoting yourself to. Every time you think you know where it’s going, you’ll realize how much you underestimated the movie to begin with. You’ll understand that the lack of CGI and other special effects is not a weakness of the movie, but rather its strength.
- French authorities considered the film an offence to the honour of their army due to the strong diplomatic pressure the French government put on the European distributor. The film wasn’t shown in France until 1975. In Germany, the government decided to delay its release to avoid any strain in relations with France.
- The film was also banned in Spain by the censorship under General Francisco Franco’s dictatorship, for its anti-military message. It wasn’t released until 1986, 11 years after Franco’s death.
- The film was shot near Munich, Germany, and most of the men playing French soldiers were actually off-duty officers from the Munich Police Department.