Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Sleep vs. Kubrick

The late night TV curse hit me again last night.

Let me ‘splain.

I was working on this week's podcast (What?! You haven’t heard my podcast? Quick go HERE now!) and it was a bit of a bear. I didn’t finish editing the fucker until two in the morning. As I went next door to catch the 2 am edition of Good Eats I figured I’d watch for 30 minutes or so and then truck off to bed.

Well- as often happens when I want to sleep- I surfed upon the film Paths of Glory. This is an early Kubrick film, that many consider to be his first real masterwork. STUPIDLY I assumed I’d watch “a few minutes” and then depart for the land of snooze and impractical dream orgies.

No such luck.

I had seen this film before, but I was again completely drawn in by this exemplary anti-war story. The film deals with the trial of three soldiers being court-martialed for cowardice. The soldiers are randomly chosen from a regiment that refused to storm over the trenches in an impossibly timed attack. The generals running the show are outraged at this mass insubordination, and as an example, decide to put three soldiers to death. Kirk Douglas plays Colonel Dax, who defends the soldiers during the court martial.

Now- this film has some INCREDIBLE battle sequences, and they look amazing and still play well (unlike many older war movies that look like cartoons) but the thing that truly struck me was the dialog and the acting. These characters are all supposed to be french men during World War I, but they all speak very naturally with American accents. (Some of the generals have slight British accents, but it’s almost more of a pomp thing than a placed accent). The soldiers all speak VERY naturally to each other, and no one feels compelled to “speek lak zis, bekawz we arrr all FRANCH yu know!

While watching Paths of Glory, I thought of two things:

– Harrison Ford's re-DIC-ulous accent in K-9: The Widowmaker. (I’m a Raashin Ghyeneral on mai soob-marin)


- the horrible HORRIBLE H O R R I B L E acting in the film The Ten Commandments. I wanted to check and see what year Paths was from, and compare it to what year The Ten Commandments was made. Guess what? Paths was from 1957, Commandments: 1956.

That's right. Less than a year apart. BOTH films were in production at the same time, at MAJOR studios, and they couldn't be any more different.

If you REALLY want to have a Stanislavskian Good Time- WATCH The Ten Commandments. (Hopefully with some robots from the Satellite of Love.) ABC usually broadcasts this literal PIECE of HOLY SHIT on either Good Friday or Easter Sunday. It really is incredible. And remember- I consider Gatorade Enemas incredible.

Anyway- I find it AMAZING that these two diametrically opposed acting / directing styles could be produced within 12 months of each other. TWELVE MONTHS! Everyone in Paths is so natural, and so at ease with their dialog- even when things get heated, it feels like it could have been made last year. When the condemned men are walking to be executed, one of the soldiers is barely able to walk and he desperately clutches at a priest’s sleeve. It’s both pitiful and pathetic and sad and moving and infuriating. Incredible.

The Ten Commandments however is just silly. Every bit of drama is overblown, and the dialog and acting are just HORRIBLE.


Paths of Glory:
Incredibly timeless anti-war parable with realistic dialog,

emotional resonnance, true life plot and incredible cinematography.

The Ten Commandments:
Sack of Doody.

Watch Paths of Glory if you have a chance- and then get a bunch of friends together and throw shit at the screen during The Ten Commandments.

No comments: