Originally Posted by Richard Dickson
Spielberg also avoids taking sides in the war. This isn't "Yay England, Boo Germany!" Both sides have their good souls and their jerks, and Spielberg seems to paint the war itself as the enemy, not the participants.
Well that was the irony of WW1. It was literally the most confusing clusterfuck in all of history. A bunch of people going to war for infathomable reasons led by people with no clue what they're doing (british commanders forced canadian soldiers to do a 19th century style combat line and got themselves machine gunned to death) or even a good reason as to why they're fighting. No one hated each other, hell nobody even mildly disliked each other. We just killed because we were ordered to under fear of penalty. The war itself truly was the enemy, some bubbling darkness of human nature which escaped for possibly the least feasable reasons and we were trapped in that miasma of anger, resentment and confusion for decades afterwards.
I'm just glad Spielberg didn't american this up for the film. Unlike WW2, The US involvement was largely secondary to the whole of the war effort and not a decisive factor in victory. Most of the horror and the tragedy was really experienced by the british, french, commonwealth, and germans (thats why all quiet on the western front is such an excellent novel despite being from the enemy's perspective).
While paths of glory is a great film and required viewing, I recommend watching the Canadian film Passchendale. It is largely a somewhat turgid romantic war drama (i swear the director/writer Paul Gross saw the name of the Battlefield and went 'Paschendale.... PASSIONDALE' yes its that stupid at times, but not Pear Harbor level of insultingly stupid). I recommend skipping through it to the Battle sequences which has the most historically accurate recreation of a battlefield ever committed to film (probably as well as the dirtiest)
And Gabe T, the obsession with readers on the horse is that we tend to associate and project ourselves and our fears and desires onto animals and it becomes an open conduit for inserting ourselves into the movie without having to work through a personality in the case of the actors.