As a retired army officer and an adjunct history professor I thought it was important to review what I consider the best war movies depicting the challenges of leadership and the command of men.
Stanley Kubrick's "Paths of Glory" depicts the futility and irony of the war in the trenches in WWI. French battalion commander Col. Dax (Kirk Douglas) must deal with the mutiny of his men and a glory-seeking general after part of his force falls back under fire in an impossible attack. In this mesmerizing film, the director Kubrick (one of the best) highlights a true episode in World War I which combines the idea that class differences are more important than national differences with the cannon-fodder theory of war, the theory that soldiers are merely pawns in the hands of generals who play at war as if it were a game of chess.
I am a huge WW I buff and I impress upon my students the criminal neglect of the British and French generals to properly lead their men. They lost over 60,000 men in the first day of battle in the Somme. The Viet Nam wall has 55,000 names of the men we lost in over 10 years fighting. That was the scale of the gross failure of leadership depicted in this very important film!!!
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