Colonel Dax (played by Kirk Douglas) is the hero of the film, as he sees to protecting soldiers under his charge from the selfish designs of General Mireau. As a way of deflecting blame from himself, Mireau orders the Court Martial of 100 of his soldiers (later reduced to 3) for cowardice and refusal to obey orders. It is at this juncture that the denouement of the film unfolds, as Colonel Dax (who served as a civilian lawyer prior to his military engagement) takes up the cause of the hapless soldiers and defends their case. Director Stanley Kubrick makes yet another bold statement via his realistic portrayal of the dynamics of power. Although Court Martial are supposed to conform to commonly accepted principles of jurisprudence, fairness, justice and due process of law, in the case the three unfortunate soldiers who are sentenced to death (essentially summarily after the farcical ‘trial’). (Clarke, 2006, p.112)
Hence, in conclusion, Paths of Glory is satisfactory in terms of aesthetics, screenplay, dialogue and story. But where it excels most is in the unconventional thematic elements it incorporates. It also excels in giving new meanings and interpretations to the concept of ‘glory’ in war. It’s contrarian view of glory, largely showcased through the character of Colonel Dax, leaves a lasting impression on the discerning and thoughtful viewer.
Directed by Stanley Kubrick, Paths of Glory (1957), Bryna Productions, Distributed by United Artists, United States.
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