This is what happens when your car breaks down on a Sunday morning and you have nothing else to do…
All Quiet on the Western Front
They left for war as boys never to return as men.
A young soldier faces profound disillusionment in the soul-destroying horror of World War I. Together with several other young German soldiers, he experiences the horrors of war, such evil of which he had not conceived of when signing up to fight. They eventually become sad, tormented, and confused of their purpose.
Film #1 of Project 30
”When it comes to dying for your country it’s better not to die at all.”
It’s really amazing that this 84 year old film’s messages and its viewpoints regarding war and its effects on human soul feel so fresh and modern even now. Lewis Milestone’s adaptation of Eric Maria Remarque’s novel of the same name is an absorbing, tantalizing and incredibly affective piece of cinema which focuses on a group of naive German boys who go to the ugly battlefields of World War I and it shows how anguish, misery and sorrow replaces all their energy, passion and enthusiasm for life and how their courage, valor and heroism soon turns into silence, depression and despair.…
There are a dozen or so legendary films in the history of cinema that live up to their billing, and then some. This is certainly one of them. It's so defiantly timeless, and also makes you somewhat wonder why people even bothered making war films ever since.
As a result of the 100th year commemorations of WWI which are currently underway, I finally decided to seek this film out and polish it off. It is one of those films you often hear about a long time before you get around to seeing it, it features prominently in the history of early cinema, particularly the early era of the Oscars. The film title itself is pure pop-culture, to the point of…
Okay, so some of the acting is a little stilted at times, but the earnestness helps to endear the characters and All Quiet on the Western Front packs in so much film-making virtuosity and naturalism for an 83 year old film that it hasn't aged for a second. The war scenes are astounding with realism and mortifying with truth. The camera so composed, always in the right spot, so still and picturesque with haunting reserve at times. The framing often reveals detail in the background as the foreground carries on with story. There is always more than one action going on in every shot, always commanding full attention. A phenomenal piece of work that has stood the test of time as well as anything.
[Originally written on my blog.]
Give it up to Milestone for directing battle sequences that still have the power to astonish over 80 years later, even compared to the groundbreaking contemporary films they directly influenced (namely Saving Private Ryan and its knockoffs). Actually, just give it up to him period, because the entire film is sensationally directed, to the point where it much more closely resembles late silents than early talkies. There actually is a silent version of All Quiet, as it turns out, shot simultaneously, and I really should watch that at some point, if only to see how it handles the incredibly stilted dialogue scenes that keep dragging the movie down. (Odds are it plays…
A half hour into this, around the time the second hysterical soldier cries like a baby, I'm ready to condemn it for being unrealistic. And that's when I realize it's just my American conditioning kicking in. Having recently watched American Sniper (review forthcoming), All Quiet On The Western Front is about as lucky a counterpoint as I could have hoped for. A film like this just couldn't be made today; lately it seems the American military must be a rock-solid bastion of masculinity at all times, and it's insane to think how many war films made in Hollywood tread this same purloined path of self-righteous bravado.
Eighty-five years later and this is one of the greatest war films ever made.…
Goes to show how a second viewing can make a big difference. I'd been of the opinion this was creaky and boring, the kind of movie that would have been better as a silent movie a year or so earlier. I was an idiot for thinking this. It's just as visually dynamic as most silents, and the sound gives it a naturalism that suits the material infinitely better. Devastating.
Glad I watched this. Every realistic war movie should try to live up to this apex on the genre.
The battle scenes are stunning, but the film is dragged down a little by an excess of sentimentality. Some of the bits taken straight from the novel, like the Gerard Duval scene, work much better in prose than on screen - talk it up to stilted acting in the transition to sound era, I guess.
The anti-war film 86 years on...
this film should be shown in schools
Pre-code, American-made anti-war cinema at its finest; honestly, it's a small niche. Compare this best picture winner to BP-favorite AMERICAN SNIPER and see how regressive our mainstream media outlook of those on enemy lines and the pride of partaking in carnage has become. Harrowing. The coldest moments come in times of sought redemption and normalcy. Taught in high school that joining the army is his duty as a citizen; dozens of starved nights, dead comrades, and pounds of despair brought upon by a guilty conscious later and one of the students, now practically a vet, returns to his school as a speaker. He tells the students they're being taught to die for an unworthy cause. They yell and protest and call him a "coward." The cycle continues.
Once you get past the fact that this is a film about German soldiers played by American actors, this is a decent anti-war flick. Seems a little heavy-handed now, but obviously not heavy-handed enough given it came out almost exactly halfway between the two World Wars.
What I really got out of this (and perhaps this is partly because of the Germans-played-by-Americans casting) is that this story could have been about any company of soldiers from any of the countries involved.
A good film for generating discussion. I'm definitely interested in reading the book now.
This was the only war film that needed to be made. All the ones that came after it were just redundant variations.
(Faux-pretentiousness aside, it's really fantastic, both crucially of its time and light-years ahead of it, and the rare worthy early-period Best Picture winner.)
An epic war picture, in fact probably one of the grandest war pictures filmed to date, “All Quiet on the Western Front” tells the story of a group of German students swept up into World War I. Inspired by a patriotic instructor, the young men agree to join the fight and are immediately whisked off to boot camp. The film follows their experiences in camp, then follows their trek across Europe fighting in trenches and avoiding enemy bombs. Shot at a cost of 1.2 million dollars, many consider “All Quiet on the Western Front” the greatest anti-war film ever made.
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