Kennan wrote “World War II seemed really so extensively predetermined; it developed and rolled its course with the relentless logic of the last act of a classical tragedy.” With this in mind, how much say did the United States have in being drawn in to World War II?
Ignoring advice that it would be utterly suicidal, Mireau orders an all-out advance by his forces on the German “ant-hill.” It is an utter disaster.
Enraged by his failure, Mireau demands a court-martial for “cowardice” to take place the very next day.
Is Dax, the passionate, sincere, “good” officer, at heart all that different from the “evil old men” he despises?
Brave and forthright as he may be, isn’t Dax more than a little foolish in thinking some semblance of “truth” or “justice” might be wrested from the organized insanity of war?
A skilled lawyer in civilian life, Dax eloquently defends the soldiers, but he cannot prevent an outcome that was planned from the start.
The men go to their deaths -- though Dax happens across an important piece of information that undoes Mireau at the last moment.
But as Kubrick shows, both settings—one “savage,” the other “civilized”—are at heart the same.
Douglas’s performance, central as it is to the workings of the film, is not the whole show.
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During the 1930’s the world began bubbling over with the social and political consequences of World War I.