Paths of Glory was important because its intention was to make aware the cattle the soldiers played during the war. The generals only concern was making a career for themselves no matter what human cost. To these generals, a soldiers life was a mere statistic. The generals seemed to be in a form of psychosis and completely free of any sort of human empathy.
Of Kubrick’s war films, Paths of Glory is most effective in its intentions. Spartacus was just a way to make some cash. Dr. Strangelove came out as a nihilists satire. Full Metal Jacket was nothing new. Paths of Glory was a bold defiance against the right timing. It was also the film where Kubrick started to develop his style and obsession to detail. Although Kubrick’s The Killing showed a promising director, Paths of Glory confirmed a new talent and master craftsman.
Kubrick seems to be more of a realist than the stereotypical liberal idealist. He has claimed that Paths of Glory isn’t an anti-war film and that he isn’t a pacifist. Paths of Glory was merely the displaying of the irrationality and career obsessed mentality of opportunist generals. The film has nothing to do with why the war being fought is bad or for what reason the war is even being fought for.
Paths of Glory is concluded appropriately with the singing of a captured German girl. She is able to communicate with the French soldiers on a universal emotional level, through song. This songs gives a sign of hope for humanity, although this wasn’t successful with the second world war. Kubrick just seemed to be showing that irrational history has a way of repeating itself. Paths of Glory stands among Kubrick’s greatest films. Many of Kubrick’s films could be considered excessive in length. Paths of Glory is quite short at less than ninety minutes. Kubrick was able to say a whole lot more when having to cram his film into a smaller budget.
I found Paths of Glory to be the most interesting and true American anti-war film. Films like Platoon and Apocalypse Now make war still seem exciting and even mythical. Paths of Glory presented human error at its least empathetic mode. The circumstances are presented and they are absurd. Most anti-war films are unable to show the absurdity of war. Kubrick succeeded.