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Alyson Rosenthal

"Paths of Glory"

By: Alyson Rosenthal
College Now Course - HUM 1

Paths of Glory, directed by Stanley Kubrick, is a film based upon true events that took place during the trench warfare of WWI. When soldiers in the French Army refuse to continue with an impossible military attack, their superiors decide to make an example of them. Many issues arise from the analysis and discussion of this film. This one that is the most significant in my perspective, is judicial injustice.

When the presiding officers decide to take three soldiers and try them for cowardly behavior toward France, they must undergo a trial in which they are tried and face capital punishment. These three soldiers all have different reasons as to why they did not advance onto the enemy's side (the Germans). They are all supposedly going to have their time in court to make their statements, but, unfortunately, the General and the other leaders aren't willing to let them speak their minds. They are asked very broad questions and they aren't able to tell them in detail the true reasons as to why they didn't press on, on the battlefield. All they were allowed to say was "yes" or "no".

The courts are supposed to be just and allow people to have a fair trial. Everyone is entitled to this and in this movie, these men were all found guilty of cowardly behavior against their country. Therefore, they were all sentenced to death for no reason. It was made clear that they weren't able to make progress in the battle they were fighting in. It would have cost them their lives to move forward on the "Ant Hill" (similar to No Man's Land). But, the court system didn't care. It was unjust.

This judicial injustice is certainly significant in this film, for it is the basis and the core of what the film focuses on. This movie proves to the people that the court systems that are supposed to be just and fair to its citizens, are merely another corrupt governmental function in which the people aren't protected. This topic is also very essential to American society. The courts today represent the people and supposedly watch out for every citizen being tried. Under the American court system, the people are entitled to a trial by jury where the jury isn't biased. In the movie, however, the jury consisted of not fellow citizens, but, of Generals and higher ranked men in the army. Their viewpoints were biased from the start and they looked to make an example of them to the French Army. They convicted them of a "crime" that they didn't intentionally commit. Fortunately, America's court systems aren't made up of jurors who come in with a mindset as to what their verdict will be. They must hear all of the evidence before making a decision. This is a very important part of American government, as written in our Constitution, and I am glad that my rights are always protected. I just hope that the courts will always be fair and never look to make examples of its citizens using false charges.

Therefore, the judicial injustice revealed in this movie is signifcant in our American Way of life. I certainly hope that Americans don't take the rights that we have in America today for granted.