24 May 2008


Just watched Stanley Kurbick's "Paths of Glory" starring Kirk Douglas (1957). I've seen it at least twice before but this time I didn't just really like it, I loved it. The camera work is fantastic. The tracking shots through the trenches create some of the most vivid scenes you'll ever see. These cramped shots contrast wonderfully with the spacious indoor scenes featuring high ranking offices. The battle scene and the evening recon scene are exceptional. "Paths of Glory" is one of the better arguments you'll ever see for the beauty of black & white movies. This would be a completely different and less effective film in color.
The story is powerful and the performances by an excellent cast are also noteworthy but "Paths" really has Kubrick's stamp on it. He was more restrained than in later films when he seemed to think too much of himself. The over indulgence worked in "A Clockwork Orange" but not at all in "Full Metal Jacket" or “Eyes Wide Shut." I also think "Spartacus" -- another earlier film -- is a great movie but it seems less like a Kubrick, probably because he took over the project from Anthony Mann (at Douglas' insistence).
(For the record I thought Kubrick’s work on "The Shining" was good, but not great.)
"Paths of Glory" is one of a zillion powerful anti-war films. I reckon there are so many good anti-war movies because wars make for such compelling drama and making war look bad is not exactly a challenge. Even war films that aren't mean to be anti often serve the purpose quite well.
Mostly I think "Paths of Glory" is expert film making and I'm glad I watched it again. It just gets better with each viewing. The sign of a classic.


Travis said...

I would like to pose a question. I will preface it first. I was reading your blog on great directors, and noticed that you did not include Kubrick. I was thinking about your "list 10 great films" rule, and noticed that you include several of his films in your most beautiful, or greatest films of all-time.

Let's count,
1. 2001: A Space Odyssey
2. A Clockwork Orange
3. Path's of Glory
4. Full Metal Jacket
5. Barry Lyndon
6. Dr. Strangelove
7. The Shining

Ok, so right now you are three short. And I haven't had the time to read your entire blog. But I can not imagine a film connoisseur such as yourself has never seen the likes of; The Killing, Eyes Wide Shut, Spartacus or Lolita.

Having said that, and you may disagree with me, but the rule of ten, may not apply to Kubrick. Seeing as how he only directed 13 films. Even so, I could get 10, and I believe (from seeing your film taste) that you could as well. In my personal opinion, he is the greatest director that has ever lived, and I was just wondering if maybe this had just slipped by you.

It's probably obvious at this point, but my question is; Why is it that you haven't included Stanley Kubrick in your list of the greatest directors of all-time?

Whatever the answer, I would like to applaud your work. Your blog is marvelous, and I am hoping mine will be this well thought out, and put together eventually.

Thank you, for your time.

Richard Hourula said...

Travis, Thanks for your comments. You make some excellent points. In retrospect I'm not terribly happy with my greatest directors posts because I limited it to those who I could make a top ten for. The Kubrick films I love are: A Clockwork Orange, Spartacus, Barry Lyndon, Paths of Glory, 2001 and The Shining. I like but don't love his other films.
I'm thinking of doing another look at great directors that is not dependent on ten movies, that would allow Kubrick a rightful place among the elites.