A century ago today, on July the 28th 1914, the first big global conflict started and triggered a political and geographical change in Europe and the Middle East never seen before. However, the cinema industry has not paid much attention to the Great War as opposed to the Second World War, a more common background. That’s why Fanstastic wants to pay tribute to this armed conflict by inviting Vicente Pascual, an incurable cinephile and a documentary film director, to tell us what his favourite First World War film is.
Paths of Glory
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Cast: Kirk Douglas, Adolphe Menjou
’Was it likely to be a pacifist in 1914? Despite the 60 years gone by since it came out, Paths of Glory is still a current film. I must confess that such a wonderful and touching final scene, in which you learn how to sing in German while tears stream down your face, makes me believe that this film is not a film, but the War transformed into a film. Because a war is not just a compilation of rather old-fashioned battle scenes: in fact, there aren’t many of those in this film. It doesn’t deal with a conflict between the good and the bad ones, but with “the other war”: the war on stupidity. The war suffered by civilians and the war that hurts the soldiers deep in their hearts just for the sake of those who started it and kept it going on. An anti-war, anti-patriotic, anti-military piece of work. The hero and the villain turn into the good or the bad one depending on the day, the time and the place. It not only shows the cruelty and the forceful way the Great War spread, but the soldiers’ confusion, no matter which side they stood for. It’s a claim for anti-war justice and a protest song against the whim of those who apply their own rules in violent court-martials. A stupid decision taken by an arrogant, sadist authority can destroy the world… but the beautiful song of a grief-striken young lady… can also save us.’
*Click here to watch a trailer of Vicente’s last documentary film, Toll Station.