Paths of Glory
The desolation, cynicism, and futility of war are embodied in this film based on a novel that took as its subject a real incident from World War I. Three innocent French soldiers are tried and convicted of cowardice, after their battalion fails to take a heavily fortified German position. Colonel Dax, a lawyer in civilian life, attempts to defend the men, who were chosen by a random drawing of lots. The General Staff, comfortable and safe behind the lines, demands they be executed to inspire the troops remaining in the trenches. Critical of the military hierarchy, and the class divisions that inspire the antipathy of common soldiers for the officer class, the film is renowned for its depiction of the callous treatment of the condemned men, taking their lives in so arbitrary a fashion.