Movie Monologue Monday: Kirk Douglas in Paths of Glory

Today’s Movie Monologue Monday takes a look at Kirk Douglas’ speech in Stanley Kubrick’s Paths of Glory.

There is no shortage of movie monologues that take place in a courtroom. This, in my opinion, is among the finest.

Douglas plays Colonel Dax, a French commander whose soldiers are on trial for refusing to take part in a suicide mission. The trial is unjust. Everybody knows it’s unjust, and yet it continues. Douglas

Douglas does the opposite of what you would expect from a grand courtroom speech. Rather than building to a climax, he starts strong and gets quieter and quieter, drawing you to him. By the end you’re hanging on every word he’s saying.

I love his physicality in the piece. He stands and walks like an aged soldier, his back ever-straight, his head ever-held high. And Kubrick’s direction keeps the camera low, making Douglas look larger-than-life.

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Craig Mason