Stanley Kubrick’s Paths of Glory (1957) is the first relevant American film on World War I after Howard Hawks’ Sergeant York (1941). Inevitably, World War Two, and the subsequent Cold War (with its "hot moment" in Korea), totally re-orienteered the war movie genre, that in the thirties had flourished mainly on the memory - mediated by the "war books boom" of the late twenties - of the Great War. When he chooses to go back to the 1914-18 conflict, Kubrick deliberately goes back to the pre-World War Two canon, epitomized by Lewis Milestone’s All Quiet on the Western Front (1930). But at the same time, Paths of Glory represents the beginning of a new canon. Telling the story of a grotesque court-martial trial in a first line French infantry division, Kubrick depicts the Great War as the quintessence of every possible mass mechanized conflict, posing the founding stones of a canon which is still productive today.
Keywords: Adaptation; Stanley Kubrick; militarism; pacifism; war movie; war novel.