Kubrick is oddly widely liked for his worst films, in which technique, spectacle, and abstraction, overpowers deeply moving human emotion, grand philosophy, and methodical writing. Unlike the bulk of his later work, at merely 88-minutes this film doesn't get lost in a labyrinth of show-off ego, nor does it have anything that is superfluous and distracting. It's all necessary, humanistic, and touchingly beautiful.
I love how this film is deeply -and in a typical Kubrick sense- comical in the most dark, subtle way, all the while serving the function of mocking the absurdity of the concept of war to begin with: it's fundamentally cynical. But there's plenty of more serious scenes as well, such as the singing German lady, the prison visits and the trial. This perfect mixture of serious and comical has left me in awe!
★★★★/ 35mm / Kubrick’s brilliant film, begins on the battlefield, men trapped in bunkers, the constant roar of bombs, soldiers terrified, senseless slaughter, turns into a surreal courtroom drama, revealing the absurdities of war. Kubrick creates stunning moments, trailing Douglas through the bunkers, the failed attack, the garish ballroom dance, the slow walk toward execution, the soldiers singing through tears.
Kubrick's visual style emerges fully formed, with his tracks and deep focus compositions intact, but the humanity what impresses. Each vignette advances the theme of process: war is killing, this is what it takes to kill a man this is what you have to do, this is how such decisions are made, and this is how people feel. To shamelessly steal from Ebert: Kubrick made many great films; but this one is perfect.
Kubrick's most emotionally & philosophically exhaustive film. Iconic trench reverse-dolly sequence, and an ending which is a powerful moving scene for the french soldiers whose lives have been marginalized by authority and deemed expendable. "Give the men a few minutes more, Sergeant." This is a film about humanity, morality, about the failures of bureaucracies and the injustices of the judicial system.
Great film, and one of my favorites from Kubrick. The war scenes are perfect in their obscurity, rather capturing the agonizing nature of the battle. Few films, if any, are as great at capturing not the violence of war, but the sinister moments of silence on the battlefield. And that's only a part of what makes this film amazing. Simple, as in not explicit. Not simplistic.
3-3.5. It's beautifully shot and works a lot of little details in to shame the military-industrial complex, but at the same time, it's relatively simple, and its bluntness feels characteristic of both Kubrick and political dramas made at the time. That being said, it is moving, and humanistically agreeable (I especially liked the end scene, even if the arcing was a little quick). Even 50s Kubrick was pretty liberal.
I might offer Paths as contender for the leanest film ever made. Both watches I've had a similar experience: it begins and I'm reticent, pushing against the stuffy old guys talking shop. Within a few frames of shirtless Kirk I'm enticed, the wit slicing through the lines. By its end I'm angry and moved, and amazed at a concise and heroic technical feat that feels both indie and epic.