Paths of glory
In 1916, while the war was enlisée for a long time in the Tranchée S, the Broulard general encourages the Mireau general, which holds its sector quietly, to give the attack to Dimension 110 (in the VF but known as “the Anthill” in the VO) a very solid German position, and this without reinforcements nor preparations. Pushed back by enemy fire, the 701e regiment, ordered by colonel Dax, must fold up itself with heavy losses.
The Mireau general then decides to translate into Conseil of war the regiment for “cowardice”. In spite of the opposition of Dax, 3 drawn men with the fate judged, will be condemned to died and will be carried out.
Dax had submitted meanwhile to the general Broulard, chief of the staff, the evidence that the Mireau general had ordered with his artillery to draw on his own troops during the attack, order which the artillerists had refused besides to carry out without written confirmation. Broulard revokes Mireau and proposes its station with Dax by believing that this one had acted by simple ambition. Dax refuses. As for the 701ème Regiment, it is immediately returned to fire.
This film takes as a starting point several actual facts. During the First World War, approximately 2.500 French soldiers was condemned to died by the councils of war, which little more than 600 were really shot “for the example” by the army for various reasons (abandonment of station, self-inflicted injuries, refusal to obey, etc), the others having seen their sorrow commuted to forced labors.
Stanley Kubrick rests inter alia on the business of the corporals of Souain where the general Réveilhac would have made draw on his own regiment refusing to leave distinct at the time of an impossible attack, before making carry out four corporals on March 17th 1915; they will be rehabilitated in 1934. Military justice had become a justice of exception since decrees of August and September 1914: the deferment, the petition for review, the extenuating circumstances and the right of reprieve were removed.
The episode of the soldier on a stretcher which one revives to shoot it inspires to him of another case, that veracious of the second lieutenant Jean Julien Marius Chapelant carried out on October 11th 1914 after a parody of lawsuit. Seriously wounded with the legs for several days, incompetent to hold upright, exhausted morally and physically, the Chapelant second lieutenant had then been tied up on his stretcher and this one posed along a tree so that one can shoot it. Buried with the cemetery of Ampuis where it was born, its tomb was honoured by the Union with mutilated and war veterans who affixed a marble plate there carrying the following inscription: “ War veterans with their brother in arms Jean Julien Marius Chapelant, martyr of the courses martiales ”.
The film of war is not isolated in work from Kubrick. Desired Fear and (1953), its first feature-length film, was already a film of war, and of Barry Lyndon (1975) with Full Metal Jacket (1987) while passing by Dr. Folamour (1964) or Spartacus (1960), its films are numerous to put in scene soldiers.
It is a film of war but especially a film against the army. He denounces deeply vitiated social reports/ratios, and desperate resistance that a man will offer to them, colonel Dax. The opposition, unlike traditional film of war, thus does not pass between two camps but between the officers and the soldiers of the same camp, the ones playing their promotion, the others their life (one never sees the Germans). This topic will be taken again in 1970 by Francesco Rosi in the men against . The English film For the example covers same subject (in the English army, this time).
At its exit, the film is appreciated with the the United States because, with the first degree, the explicit target is the French Army , that it seasons few quite Anglo-Saxon commonplaces: the generals live in castles (whereas into 14-18 they preferred the schools, many and very practices to install offices, contrary to the very fond of delicacies English army of castles), spend their time in fashionable evenings and, in the conversation, are called by their first names (absolutely unthinkable: it is only very recently that the use of the first name left on our premises the family, under the influence of the Anglo-Saxons relayed by the TV), the procedure of the lawsuit is Anglo-Saxon (“rejected objection-objection”, the defender questions the defendants), the military salute head discovered is also inadmis in the French Army. But the film is chahuté in Belgium at the time of its presentation on February 21st 1958, and causes violent reactions in the rows of the French and Belgian war veterans. The film, withdrawn of the poster, arises only a few weeks later, once calmed agitation. It is subjected to a strong French pressure, and prohibited in Suisse.
Indeed, the France, worried by the events of the Guerre of Algeria fears it parallel which can be established between these old facts and the topicality. In Algeria, the army has very wide capacities. The film is not distributed in the rooms although no official censure is pronounced, the producers being subjected to a self-censorship. The French film enthusiasts will see it in group in Belgium. Finally, the film leaves to France only eighteen years later, in 1975.
- Realization: Stanley Kubrick
- Scenario: Stanley Kubrick, Calder Willingham and Jim Thompson, according to the novel of Humphrey Cobb appeared in 1935 Director
- of the photography: Georg Krause
- Music: Generic Gerald Fried
- of the beginning: the Marseilles
- Lasted: 84 min
- Black and white
- Studios: Munich - Summer 1957
- Distribution: Associated Artists
Kirk Douglas: the colonel Dax
- Adolphe Menjou: the general George Broulard
- Ralph Meeker: Paris
- George Macready: the general Mireau
- Timothy Carey: Férol
- Joseph Turkel: Arnaud.
- Wayne Morris.
- Richard Anderson.
- Susanne Christian
The 701ème Régiment is a fictitious unit. Number 701 allotted forever to a regiment of infantry of the French Army during the First World War, the classification of the regiments of infantry stopping to 421. The 710ème Régiment (this number appears in a plan) is obviously also fictitious.
Kubrick locates the action of its film in 1916, but the facts which it takes as a starting point are unrolled primarily in 1914 and 1915. Undoubtedly is necessary it to see here the will to mark the obvious differences existing between fiction of the scenario and reality of the history. The major general Mireau has only 2 stars and one promises of it to him a third with the command of an army corps. In fact, it should have 3 stars and hope for a fourth of it.
The single machine-gun which one sees in a plan seems to be Maxim English, very different from Hotchkiss Frenchwoman which made all 14-18 (and even 39-40).
The grenade used at the time of the patrol has nothing to do with the squared lawful Frenchwoman.
The military salute head discovered is not setting in the French Army.
The French generals are not called by their first name.
Colonel Dax is introduced like reservist: that it orders a regiment of first line is unthinkable in the French Army of 14-18.
Colonel Dax quotes the English author Samuel Johnson, that in France nobody knows. Its critic of patriotism does not correspond to the frame of mind of 14-18.
Colonel Dax moves in the motor bike with motorcycle combination: in 1916, that appears doubtful.
The castle in which the HQ is located does not have anything a French castle but resembles rather - and it is a roof with a German castle whereas the French Army did not penetrate on the German territory (except with the whole beginning of the war in the hardly occupied Alsace-Moselle a few days at the time of the battles of Morhange and Thann).
The debates of the martial court follow a purely Anglo-Saxon diagram.
Inspecting the trench, the Mireau general slaps a soldier in state of shock. All the officers know that it is absolutely necessary to avoid this kind of imagination not only because the payment prohibits it but also because with younger people having weapons full the hands, one can never envisage how that can finish. Famous Patton failed to see its career stopped for an incident of the same kind (occurred in full battle and thus more justified).
In his rage, the Mireau general wants to make shoot a man on 10 in all the regiment. The “decimation” was envisaged by the Roman discipline but Polybe specifies that it was extremely rare. To apply to a whole regiment in a modern army is unthinkable.
One will notice finally an inconsistency on the level of the history: the catch of Dimension 110 is presented as essential component of a great offensive but is not worth with the Mireau general any reinforcement and is absolutely impromptu, which appears not very plausible. The process would be appropriate rather for a diversion.
- corporals of Souain: actual fact which Kubrick in its film takes as a starting point freely.
- It tragic history of Felix Baudy, other shot for the example.
- War memorials pacifist
- For the example , film of Joseph Losey (1964), tells a similar history, that of a British soldier on the Belgian face, shot in 1917.
- the film was turned partly to the Nouveau Castle of Schleissheim in Bavaria.
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