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Paths of Glory

This movie presents the perspective of the average French soldier during trench warfare in WWI. Kirk Douglas (father of Michael Douglas) plays a field commander of French ground forces during their times in the trenches. Orders to attack or withdraw are given from Generals far from the front who have no knowledge of the nature of things on the actual battlefield. When the order is given for the French to come out of the trenches and storm the Germans, one man is knocked unconcious in his trench by an artillery shell. As the movement forward proceeds it becomes obvious that there is no way that French forces can take, let alone hold German positions if they take them. Men fall back and later French commanders deem that cowardice was the reason that the attacked failed.

As a result of this failed attack Kirk Douglas is asked to pick a few men to stand trial for the "cowardice" present in his unit. He decides to have his men draw straws to see who will be the unlucky few. One man was the guy knocked unconcious during the battle. Kirk defends them in a military court but all his passionate speaches fall on deaf ears. A kangaroo court pronounces all of the men guilty of treason and sentences them to die. One of the accused was unconcious from actual battle wounds. He was carried onto the place of execution on a stretcher. His eye lids were flipped open to give the appearance that this was a man killed in a state of conciousness.

The movie ends with a captured German girl singing before a group of French soldiers. Rather than scorn or hate this female from the enemy's land the soldiers embrace her and in so doing embrace their humanity. Passing Glory is in many ways a movie of past glory that few have heard of. But the movie does speak to the root cause of war which often is Generals and political figures with little memory of war plunging their nations head first into its horrors.

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