Stanley Kubrick’s Path of Glory
Today is the 84th anniversary of the director’s birth.
Web2Carz Senior Writer
Published: July 26th, 2012
"Paths of Glory" is
a brilliant indictment
of the insanity of war, the arrogance of
power, and the horrifying indifference of institutional bureaucracy.
robably one of the most influential, stylistic, and critically divisive filmmakers of modern times, Stanley Kubrick made only a dozen feature films in his 50-year career, but at least four of his films have become cultural touchstones. His cold, detached cinematography, his penchant for long, slow scenes, and his dark sense of humor make him an unlikely filmmaker to have achieved so much popularity, and there are indeed those who find his movies pretentious and boring. But there’s no denying his importance as a filmmaker, or the cinematic significance of films like 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange, and Dr. Strangelove. Today is the 84th anniversary of Kubrick's birth.
Kubrick began his career as a photographer for Look magazine, and began making documentary films in the early 1950s. He began his feature-film career with two film noirs, Killer’s Kiss and The Killing, the latter of which has been cited as a key influence by Quentin Tarrantino.
He then made what is, for our money, his best and most important film, Paths of Glory. Based on a book by Humphrey Cobb, Paths of Glory stars Kirk Douglas as a World War I infantry commander who tries to defend his soldiers against charges of cowardice during a court-martial.
It’s a brilliant indictment of the insanity of war, the arrogance of power, and the horrifying indifference of institutional bureaucracy. It contains many of the stylistic elements that would typify his later work: the long reverse-tracking shots, the effective use of deep-focus, and the stark, unsentimental portrayal of humanity’s darker side.
Paths of Glory as not a major success at the box office, but it earned the director great critical acclaim, which gave him the cache he needed to make his next film, the hugely successful Spartacus.
Kubrick’s next film, Lolita, based on the controversial novel by Vladimir Nabakov, set him on the path of making dark, cynical, non-mainstream films. He continued in this direction for the duration of his career: the brilliant satire Dr. Strangelove was followed by the groundbreaking and impenetrable 2001: A Space Odyssey, after which came the X-rated (at the time) A Clockwork Orange.
His last four films, like much of his work throughout his career, divided critics and met with mixed reception at the box office: Barry Lyndon, The Shining, Full Metal Jacket, and Eyes Wide Shut.
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