As a piece technical craft, 1957'sPaths of Glory is, to use that hoary old term, frequently jaw-dropping, and it's one of those films where it's easy to just sit back and radiate in the utter implacable pristineness of it all... There's something about the film which jars, and the reason it does so extends to Kubrick's prediction for using cinema to present binary depictions of good and evil.
The humanist coda needed another verse, basically: it moves too quickly from the soldiers wolf-whistling to looking awed - a typical touch (a flaw, in this case) in a film that moves at a breakneck pace, the ultimate young-man-in-a-hurry movie. The first scenes are glib (e.g. Macready swayed by the promise of a promotion, then pretending he only has his troops' interests at heart) but it keeps getting better, and watching it with an audience made clear how the second half grips like a vise.
Valiant efforts only go so far, and Kubrick’s sweeping tracks sheathe the chaotic carnage in a meticulous illustration of frontline bedlam. As best-laid plans are aborted for sheer survival, obscured battle lines erupt in frenzied formal mayhem. Kubrick’s searing succession of devastating imagery scatters calculated explosions, synchronised character action, and purposefully fitful pans in mad dash desperation.