War Films and Reconstruction of Historical Consciousness: Stanley Kubrick's Two Films
This article analyzes Stanley Kubrick's two famous films, Paths of Glory and Dr.Strangelove. They presented the big mechanism of power which menaces human beings.
Paths of Glory seems to argue that war is a cruel instance of oppression and exploitation of common people by the state which is no more than a ruling apparatus of the upper class. Military trial is a good evidence of the conflict between two classes. In a case during the First World War, 'military nobles' comprising generals and officers of the French Army prosecute three innocent soldiers for 'lack of courage against the enemy', in order to hide their military incompetence. Despite desperate efforts of the hero, colonel Dax, for the cause of justice, three victims are shot to death like 'animals or worms' as they have usually talked about themselves.
Dr.Strangelove provides the director with a good opportunity for his manifestation of philosophical attitude in an age of nuclear war. It analyzes how humanities are in an absurd situation under the ever increasing threats of nuclear weapons in the Cold War period. Kubrick seems to stress that the modern scientific progress has permitted us enormous power, but it becomes very dangerous as we do not yet possess moral capability for its control. The blind search for destructive nuclear bombs of the conservatives of the US is represented in the film as the perversive love of a 'mad scientist', Dr.Strangelove, whose name itself attests the phenomenon.
The two masterpieces verify that the world is full of brutal forces and human history is the succession of violence. According to the 'author' of the films, the contemporary age is the apex of such huge menaces which can cause horrible collapse at any moment.