The Movie That Kubrick Dared to Make

Posted by Michael Pinto on May 26, 2008 in Cinema |


I’ve noticed the trend in the last few years to focus on the “Summer Blockbuster” which always seems to be a multimillion dollar special effects film based on a very well known franchise. As much as these films are my generational comfort food (Indiana Jones = Mac and Cheese?) my own personal nostalgia is more for the 90s which were a mini-golden age of indie film making. It’s for this reason that I’ve always been a fan of Stanley Kubrick, because while he made his fair share of blockbusters he was never afraid to take chances and get out of his comfort zone.

On a converging thread this Memorial Day weekend started me thinking about war and how we view it. One of my ongoing rants is that most of our cinema tends to focus on World War II, i.e. “The Good War”. In 1957 at the height of the cold war Kubrick could have taken the easy path and done a World War II film, but instead he took a real gamble and based his first big project on the anti-war novel Paths of Glory by Humphrey Cobb which is set World War I France:

While researching this film I came across this wonderful interview with Steven Spielberg. What’s funny about this interview is that like Spielberg I never found The Shining to be one of my favorite films. But Spielberg nails the essence of a Kubrick film with the idea that his films not only grow on you over time, but one you stop watching them you can’t stop — they still feel fresh and you’re seeing new things.

But what caught my eye at the end of this interview is when Spielberg talks about how after Kubrick died how he invited some friends over to watch the final scene from Paths of Glory:

And here is that stunning last scene:

Here is a translation of that song:

Once there was a faithful hussar
Who loved his maiden for a whole year
A whole year and even more
His love won’t ever cease

And when he received the message
That his sweetheart dear was dying
All his goods and chattels he left behind
And hastened to his sweetheart dear

So yes feed your fanboy blockbuster fast food cravings this Summer, but do yourself a favor make it a point to get out of your cinematic comfort zone every now and then — you never know what you’ll discover (even wandering around YouTube).

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