I have always loved Stanley Kubrick. He is my favorite director, and last week, I got the chance to watch one of his earliest films. Here are my thoughts:
Haven’t heard of it. I mean, yeah, many people haven’t, but it is one of his earliest works, like The Killing. I was drawn to it because, of course, Kubrick directed it (I suppose this is why I like The Moon Landing so much), and it was set in France in WW1. I think WW1 is a much more compelling story than WW2, but it’s not given much love in movies.
So, you love war. Not exactly. Anyway, this movie is a brilliant little piece that covers only a few days. It’s a tragic and powerful take on the rules of war, the morale of men, discipline, legalities and rights of soldiers, and the motivations of those in war.
Kirk Douglas is the star of this piece, and he seems to be the original “hunk” in Hollywood, as evidenced by the fact that the man never has a movie where he wears his shirt the whole time. Kubrick directed him only one other time, I believe, in Kubrick’s most mainstream epic, Spartacus. If you haven’t watched Spartacus yet, stop reading this trash, and get watching!
OK, OK, I’ll watch it! What about this movie? Well, it’s heavy, it’s dark, but the writing is real, it’s human, and it fleshes out a number of characters. The direction is beautiful (duh) and uniquely Kubrick, and the action scenes were, to me, ahead of their time. The acting was spot on, though I must say, the villain of the piece is kind of simply evil, though, if one considers the context (the German army sitting a couple hundred yards from their position and pelting them with howitzer rounds), even he is able to be identified with.
So, yes, go watch this movie. It immediately jumped into one of my favorite movies. It’s compelling, the story is small but powerful, and it does just about everything right. It’s a classic we should be talking about more than we are. Watch it.