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  • All Quiet on the Western Front
    • All Quiet on the Western Front
    • Runtime:127 min
    • Release Date:2017-01-18 19:08:26
    • Director: Lewis Milestone
    • Genres: Action, Drama, War
    • Studio:
MOVIE REVIEW:All Quiet on the Western Front


Each film has its own audience. Until today the war film "Saving
private Ryan" managed to attract more than 2000 reviews. I guess that
the film "All quiet on the Western front" draws a somewhat more
advanced public. On careful consideration, it is the First World War
that appeals most to the imagination when reflecting upon the horrors
of war. After WWI war has never again been the same. With "Im Westen
nichts Neues" Remarque wrote an outstanding account of the misery in
the trenches. This is the first try of a cinematic translation, and
than there was a remake, in "The Hallmark Hall of Fame". Most reviews
appreciate the 1930 version, but to me it seems that the remake more
closely follows the narrative and the atmosphere of the book. I also
found some comments lamenting that it is an English-spoken produce, and
so the typical German expressiveness is lost. There is some truth in
this critique, and in fact there is a really German counterpart. This
is the film "Westfront 1918", which was also made in the early thirties
and based on a novel (titled "Vier von der Infantry"). If you
appreciated "All quiet on the western front", then "Westfront 1918" is
definitely a film for you. The main difference between both films is
that the German version has an almost documentary style. Both films
have a similar main character (resp. Paul Brenner and Karl), but in
"Westfront 1918" the story line is even thinner. The central theme is
war, trenches, barbed wire, death, destruction, and decay. I guess the
documentary style of "Westfront 1918" was inevitable, since the makers
had been in the middle of the conflict and had experienced the horrors
by themselves (even on the "homefront"). Whereas the American makers of
"All quiet on the western front" maintain some distance and try to give
an interpretation from a personal point of view, the makers of
"Westfront 1918" can only recount what happened. There is no room for
empathy with anything. This makes in my opinion the latter film more
impressive and horrific. Therefore I will probably not like "Saving
private Ryan", since it tries to transform the collective nature of war
into an individual affair. Anyway, "All quiet on the western front"
goes like this. In 1914 Paul Baumer volunteers together with 20 of his
classmates. At the front in France they soon discover the gruesome
reality. They are confronted with the terrible routine in the trenches.
A highly emotional aspect is the proximity of the conflict, since apart
from the perpetuating anonymous shelling it is still largely a
man-to-man fight with drawn bayonets and experimental flame-throwers.
You can yet by accident find yourself in a bomb crater, together with
an armed enemy volunteer. It also helps to place the film into the
context of military history. In the second half of the nineteenth
century the wars were often short encounters between professional
armies, which hardly affected the population. However, by the end of
the century the rise of imperialism had caused an arms race (something
like the Cold War), which stupefied the common people. The mass
destruction reached proportions, that surpassed the contemporary human
imagination. Man lost what had remained of his innocence. It was this
war, that ended the remaining absolute monarchies and even caused the
birth of an entirely new society system in Russia. It created the first
insane forms of art (Dada), and strongly furthered the foundation of
pacifism and the League of Nations.

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