Powerful & Serious War Film
- All Quiet on the Western Front review by GI
This is a new adaptation of the celebrated novel by Erich Maria Remarque (in other words not a remake of the brilliant 1930 film or the largely forgotten 1979 one, both of the same title). This is a powerful, conscientious and at times harrowing film about the horrors of war, the loss of innocence of Paul (Felix Kammerer) a young student, who caught up with idealistic and patriotic fervour, joins the German army in 1917 along with some friends. They look forward to an heroic march into Paris but are quickly thrust into the maelstrom of bloody combat in the trenches. The film effectively portrays the wrenching futility of war epitomised by the scenes of politicians and generals attempting to negotiate the armistice while young men die violently. This is a substantial and serious war film that adds the poignancy of lost friendships and centres on Paul's relationship with the older and more experienced soldier, Kat (Albrecht Schuch) and there's a tender scene as Paul reads the illiterate Kat's letter from his wife to him and learns of a family tragedy. These small moments that humanise the characters contrasts with the industrialised chaos of the slaughter. The First World War has not resulted in as many films as the Second, probably because the latter lent itself to adventure in many different scenarios whereas the the Great War has no romance and no sense of an adventure, it was just pure hell and this film captures that very well indeed.
5 out of 5 members found this review helpful.
The futility of war
- All Quiet on the Western Front review by AB
This is a devastating film about the futility of war. The recreation of the World War I battlefields and the trenches is incredibly effective.
It is a hard and painful film to watch, but perhaps necessary to once again remind ourselves of the futility of throwing away the lives of thousands of young men while the bone-headed generals and politicians argue.
1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.
A very raw depiction of the First World War as seen from the German side, in France
- All Quiet on the Western Front review by Philip in Paradiso
The film is a German adaptation of the famous novel by the same name. It starts in 1917 (WWI has been going on for 3 years), when Paul Bäumer, who is 17, decides to enlist in the Imperial German Army alongside his 3 friends, Albert Kropp, Franz Müller, and Ludwig Behm. Once deployed on the Western Front, in an infantry regiment, they find themselves in Northern France near La Malmaison, facing French troops on the other side of no man's land. They are befriended by an older soldier, Stanislaus 'Kat' Katczinsky. The film shows us what subsequently happens to them, as they are involved in frontal attacks on the French defensive lines. Life in the trenches is hellish and death is all too common. The German general in charge of the troops along this segment of the front expects the soldiers to behave heroically and be prepared to sacrifice their lives for their Kaiser and their country.
Very few war films depict war as it really is. Usually, there is a certain romantic element or a certain distance between what is shown and what the reality was (or must have been like). A good example is the British film, '1917', which is a good movie, but not one that depicts the experience of the common soldier in the trenches. This German film is far more realistic and unforgiving. As you watch it, you feel that it is telling it as it is, i.e. as the conditions really were. And, of course, it is hell on earth - a relentless, bloody carnage in the mud, which shows how absurd war can be, and how dehumanizing the butchery of WWI turned out to be. We see the war through the eyes of a small group of soldiers, who are friends and stick together as best they can. The bigger story is told through their own personal stories. The film is also very good when it shows the peace negotiations taking place between the Germans and the French (the war ended in 1918), and the concerns of the senior officers and politicians on both sides.
This is an important film and, given how rare it is to see such a war film, an excellent one. Having said all this, don't expect heroics and easy entertainment in the conventional sense: the film is very raw, very graphic, powerful, shocking, relentless and hard-hitting. Some scenes are hard to watch and to stomach. Nothing is watered down or made easy for the viewer. And we identify with this small band of brothers in the front line: we feel what they feel and hope what they hope, to the end.
1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.