Tag Archives: Stanley Kubrick

Paths of Glory

1957

directed by: Stanley Kubrick

Ah, a picture after my own heart.  In other words, a WWI film.  However, it seems strange that Kubrick, in 1957, would make a movie, not about a war that ended < 15 years prior, but rather one that ended almost 40 years prior.  It’s definitely a case of distancing yourself from public sentiment regarding the conflict, and coming at it from a filmmaker’s perspective who is trying to tell us his opinion of the subject.  Or to try and tell a story, perhaps an unpopular or controversial one, without having everyone hate you.

Which is why he chose WWI.

Anyways, if you couldn’t gather already, Paths of Glory, (hell yeah! America!), is an anti-war film.  Puzzling, though, is that all characters, I think, are supposed to be in the French army, yet all speak perfect English.  So it’s one of those films (insert groan here).  Now I’m all for authenticity, but again, rather than try to dramatize the exploits of the US Army’s involvement in WWI (which is the vast minority of time/casualties) he focuses instead on a generic French army in a generic period of time of trench warfare.

Plot-wise it’s fairly straightforward.  Crazy General guy orders impossible attack on German hill.  Chain of command quandaries and hesitations lead to the company being accused of cowardice.  Three dudes get picked at “random” to be executed as  a result.  Most of the movie (plot-wise) takes place in the time period of post-attack/pre-execution.  Good turns by Kirk Douglas as the level-headed, grunt-loving Lieutenant / Lawyer , and each of the condemned men.

So what’s the movie overall about? I’d say he tries to go after the absurd notion of giving absolute power to men to not only order men to their deaths on the battlefront, but also to the gallows as a result of their mistakes.  Also, it’s to beat down any semblance of trying to say that order and righteousness are going to win the day.  Which maybe is a bit on the grim side of opinion, but the movie doesn’t really have any high notes.  And the ending was great too.  They capture a German girl (Who later married Kubrick??), and make her sing (through tears) to the crowd of troops gathered at a bar.  Then, Kirk receives the order that they’re going back to the front, but let’s the guys continue their drinking and soaking in the presence of the girl for a bit longer.  Heavy stuff.

Underrated Actors: Timothy Carey as one of the 3 condemned men.  TOTALLY a Kubrick Actor.

 


Barry Lyndon

1975

directed by: Stanley Kubrick

Oscars:  Best Art Direction; Best Cinematography; Best Costume Design; Best Musical Score

One of these days I’ll watch all of Kubrick’s films.  This was my motivation to look through and find some that would interest me that I haven’t seen.  Barry Lyndon is Kubrick’s film in between A Clockwork Orange and The Shining.  So it’s got to be like, super twisted and all, right? … Nope.

Barry Lyndon is a coming of age/revenge/anti-hero flick set in one of the best decades, namely … the 1760’s.    Kubrick sets the tone right away, with some voiceover work, and a duel.  This dueling serves as a major motif of the film, and most of the plot junctures are centered around them.  Plotwise, though, what struck me as superiorly brilliant though, was Barry’s involvement with women, or rather what Kubrick was telling us about man’s involvement with women over the course of one’s life.  The movie starts out, as I said, with a duel, with Barry’s father getting killed.  So right off the bat, Barry’s dependence on his mother is apparent. He then extends this familial love to his cousin, whom is his first love.  Now the film points out it’s his first love, and you know right off the bat it’s not going to work out for him.  Sure enough, he is embarassed, tricked, and sent off.  Soon he’s swindled and penniless.  Ah, to be in the real world.  Barry then does what any teen of the age did, join the army.  He works his ass off, survives through his determination and cunning (and bravery) and after he’s discharged settles into a sweet gig as a gambler.  The single 20-something years.  The freedom and carefree times.  Then during the course of one these  brilliantly filmed gambling seshs (more on the look of the film in a bit) , he crosses eyes with this mega hot upper class babe.  My rented DVD skipped a bit here, but they end up hooking…up.  and She parades him around as sort of a boy-toy.  They get hitched and he treats her like garbage.  Yada yada yada, Act II , Tragic Downfall (Pride), Act III , the end.  It’s a 3 hour movie.

Now the look of this film.  Stunning, to put it simply.  Oscars for Visual and Auditory Stuff.  Strangely, It’s easy to put into words.    Decadent; indulgent; beautiful; every scene is a Baroque painting; Cold (in a strangely alluring way); the candlelight scenes were stunning… but I already said that.  Even a bit humorous at times, just laughing at the ridiculous customs , costumes, and situations of high society (and the brawl scene was good).

The acting was, eh, though.  A bit forced and again cold.  But the film was more visually stimulating and thematically challenging than I think the acting could manage.

Underrated Actors:  Marisa Berenson as the foxy 70’s Keira Knightley-esque (with the pale makeup) Lady Lyndon