You ever read something, a thing that never even occurred to you, but after you read it, it’s just so obvious you wondered how you ever missed it? This short article, The Hell of War: David Simon on Paths of Glory, about the influence that Kubrick’s Paths of Glory had on The Wire was like that for me. There’s even a short movie (which I can’t figure out how to embed) of Simon talking about Paths of Glory.
Watching the film with the detectives whose work he had set out to investigate, Simon recognized that its portrayal of the callous and hypocritical French-military bureaucracy had a great deal to say about the police department’s own chain of command. The film would prove to be a model of narrative and political complexity for Simon as he went on to a remarkable career in television, creating his own sprawling story of institutional dysfunction with the Baltimore-set drama The Wire, and later cowriting and producing the 2008 Iraq-war miniseries Generation Kill.
I really like Paths of Glory. It’s a genuinely anti-war film. I doubt that any kids ever took to the back yard to play “paths of Glory.” They just took to their jobs to play it in real life.