Scarlett Worthington’s review published on Letterboxd:
I thought I had seen the original of this film but I haven’t oops.
Even if I haven’t seen the original I think it is easy to say that this remake is beyond worthy of praise. A painful sense of hopelessness carried this movie and all its brutality. All Quiet On The Western Front was dynamic in its cinematic choices, therefore creating not only a brilliant film but a brilliant war film.
There have been hundreds of war films now, you would think viewers would be sick of them or film-makers would have run out of ideas at least. Well evidently this is not the case. Although war films all deliver the same message, that war is bad, how that message is communicated always varies within successful war films and here All Quiet On The Western Front manages to fall into that category.
First of all, this being a German film with German actors already sets this film up to be great. Authenticity is already achieved here. Authenticity is where this film is most effective in my opinion. Here we get a real sense of the pure fear that so so many of the young soldiers sent off to war would have felt. We often see unshakeable bravery or a strong urge to kill in our soldier characters but here we saw young men simply terrified, unable to use their guns properly and losing their friends on the first day of fighting. It is heart-breaking but incredibly refreshing to see. Of course in our main character we see the survival instinct kick in and an urge to kill grow but the fear never seems to leave him. It just shows so clearly that war benefits no one. This film, although it told a story and took us through many peaks and valleys, really did show the hopelessness of war. It showed us how so many innocent lives were taken out of pure stubbornness by those in power. Those who had nothing to do with any source of conflict paid the price, and for what? National pride thrust upon them by corrupt leaders?
How All Quiet On The Western Front uses its cinematic tools to feed these powerful messages was succinct and intelligent. A bombastic score with a jarring booming motif that seemed to jump up on us whenever something bad was going to happen created this constant sense of danger, making this a brilliantly cathartic experience. The cinematography was often so perfectly framed and beautiful in its use of colours which acted as a striking contrast to the horror that was occurring on screen. There was this stunning shot of an empty battlefield painted in a twilight blue, dotted with stark orange flames. This intense colour contrast really managed to evoke emotions, despite it being simply a landscape.
So conclusively, although I cannot directly compare to its golden age counterpart, this is a brilliant remake that uses the capabilities of modern cinema to its advantage to make a prevalent and evocative war film.