Based on the novel by Humphrey Cobb, Stanley Kubrick directed the movie Paths of Glory in 1957. Kirk Douglas plays the role of Colonel Dax, a commander of the French army in World War I. Held in their trenches against the threat of German cannons, the regiment is ordered on a suicidal mission to capture the Germans. When the mission fails, French generals order three soldiers to be tried and executed on the charge of cowardice. Dax is selected defense attorney for the chosen soldiers. Kubrick explores the political planning and selfish personal ambitions that result in battlefield slaughter and irrational executions. The movie is constant in its disapproval of war and the pleasure-seeking of military leaders who arrange the deaths of thousands from the comfort of their headquarters.
In the beginning of the movie, General Mireau verbally ordered artillery fire on his own men because they had not left the trenches to attack the enemy. This order was denied because it was not written and signed by the general himself. Verbal orders cannot be given out for it could be false. With a signed order, proof is seen from the signature. General Mireau refused to sign the order and instead became very upset. His outrage brought him to the decision to kill three soldiers. A meeting was held between General Broulard, General Mireau and Colonel Dax. General Broulard wanted to execute one-hundred of his own men for cowardice. Of course Colonel Dax disagreed. Therefore, General Broulard brought the number down to a dozen. The result was to choose one man from each regiment and then execute them. There were three regiments so there would be three men randomly picked by their lieutenant. Colonel Dax then requested that he be chosen as their defense attorney. He also had the responsibility of choosing someone who would be in charge of executing these men if they plead guilty in their trial. I would say that their trial was taken place in a Kangaroo court. Kangaroo court is...
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