Parents' Guide to

Paths of Glory

By Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Classic Kubrick film with complex, heavy, anti-war themes.

Movie NR 1957 88 minutes
Paths of Glory Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 13+

Based on 3 parent reviews

age 13+

Just like Folgers...good to the last drop.

A powerhouse of a Kubrick film. Although not a long film it captures the absurdity of war in a direct and powerful way that leaves a searing mark on all who witness the film. Douglas sells every moment and Menjou relishes his scenes like filet mignon and Folgers good to the last drop. The poignant details of the film seem to capture the essence of the war and its problematic and hierarchical power structures. Unforgettable.
age 13+

Good movie that calls to mind the dignity of the human person

Set in World War I, Paths of Glory speaks about the evils present in the leadership of the French army. The commander tells Colonel Dax to basically commit suicide with his men; the chance of surviving the attack was virtually impossible. When the commander finds out that his order was disregarded, he decides to randomly take the life of three men as a punishment for cowardice and as a warning for the others, to obey the command of the colonel. Colonel Dax tries to save his men, but to no avail. In the mean time, the chaplain comes to give the last rights to the men; he reminds one of them that God is good and that he must trust in the mercy of God. Even in the midst of evil, there is no sin that He cannot forgive. The movie proclaims the truth about the dignity of the human person, and of the hope that can be found in God. At the same time, it serves as a warning to remind the audience to act honorably and justly, lest they become animal-like creatures.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (3):
Kids say (4):

Kubrick presents a thoughtful, contemplative look at an impossible war-time situation that results in a tragic miscarriage of justice, in which the true horror of war is its endless futility. Some of the dialogue and blocking are overly formal and stilted, but the true power of the film is in the reaction shots. For some of the strongest moments, the speaker is actually off-screen so that the viewer slowly absorbs the impact of what's being said while watching the face of the listener. It's here that Kirk Douglas really shines, and the masterful scene of the company in the tavern, comprising mostly reaction shots, will tug at the heartstrings of even the most hardened.

The complex themes involving military chain of command and philosophical discussions about fear of dying, not to mention the downer ending highlighting the cruelly endless nature of war, make this a better choice for older teens who are ready for moral complexity. The slow pace and black-and-white photography may be off-putting, but kids who can hang in there will get an emotional payoff at the end -- and a lot of food for thought.

Movie Details

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