Having never experienced a Kubrick film before, my expectations for Paths of Glory were surprisingly well-managed. Of course, I’d heard of his greatest works before starting this project: The Shining, Dr. Strangelove, A Clockwork Orange… I know he’s widely regarded as one of the best directors of the 20th century.
I hadn’t heard of Paths of Glory. I remembered Notorious as the first Hitchcock film I watched – a film I found unrepresentative of the rest of his work because I didn’t enjoy it. My concern was that Paths of Glory would suffer the same verdict.
Admission: I don’t like war films. Least of all old ones. They remind me of rainy days spent home from school with nothing to do because there’s nothing else on TV. I wondered while watching: Did I ever watch Paths of Glory as a child?
Unlike Notorious, there’s none of the theatrics in this early Kubrick film. Something that I’ve never been able to overcome watching Hitchcock’s films is the air of Golden Age, where everything was very clearly a set, the stars frequently monologue, and there’s a romantic subplot with a girl way too hot for the lead.
I plan on enjoying the rest of Kubrick’s films because (and nothing against Hitchcock – I understand they’re the products of two very different Hollywoods) they’re classics by my generation’s standards. For the most part, we watch Hitchcock if we want to learn about the history of film. We watch Kubrick if we want to experience and overcome the limits of movies.