Paths of Glory

National Evening of Science on Screen
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1hr 28mins // directed by:Stanley Kubrick // featuring:Kirk Douglas, Ralph Meeker

As part of our national evening of Science on Screen involving independent cinemas in 17 cities across the country, we are proud to present Stanley Kubrick’s Paths of Glory, one of the greatest antiwar films of all time.

Experimental psychologist Steven Pinker – our inaugural Science on Screen speaker in 2005 – joins us before the film to discuss violence, human nature, and why – as implausible as it may sound – we may be living in the most peaceable, least violent and least cruel era in human existence.

About the Film

Kirk Douglas gives one of his finest performances as Colonel Dax, a World War I commander of a battle-weary regiment of the French army along the Western Front. When French generals, for the sake of their own selfish pride and personal ambitions, order Dax’s men on a blatant suicide mission to take an impregnable German position, the attack inevitably fails. To deflect blame, the generals order three arbitrarily selected soldiers to be tried on charges of cowardice. Dax, a criminal lawyer in peacetime, passionately and eloquently defends the three scapegoats, but unless he can prove that the generals were at fault, nothing will save his clients from the firing squad. Brilliantly shot in black and white, Paths of Glory is unsparing in its treatment of the absurdity of war and the military machine’s capacity for dehumanization.

About the Speaker

Steven Pinker is one of the world’s foremost writers on language, mind, and human nature and Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. He has received seven honorary doctorates, several teaching awards, and numerous prizes for his books The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works, and The Blank Slate. His most recent book, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined was published in 2011. A frequent contributor to The New York Times, Time, and The New Republic, he has been named to Foreign Policy’s “100 Global Thinkers,” and Time magazine’s “The 100 Most Influential People in the World Today.”

About the National Evening of Science on Screen

On March 31, the Coolidge and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation will present a national evening of Science on Screen as part of our Science on Screen grant initiative. Seventeen independent cinemas in cities across the country will take part in this first-of-its-kind event, which will feature a short introductory video, followed by a film and speaker presentation at each venue. While each program will be unique, they all have the same aim: to engage people in science using film as the foundation. Read the press release here.