All Quiet on the Western Front (German: Im Westen nichts Neues) is a 2022 German epic anti-war film based on the 1929 novel of the same name by Erich Maria Remarque. Directed by Edward Berger, it stars Felix Kammerer, Albrecht Schuch, Daniel Brühl, Sebastian Hülk, Aaron Hilmer, Edin Hasanovic and Devid Striesow. Set in the closing days of World War I, it follows the life of German soldier Paul Bäumer, who, after enlisting in the German Army with his friends, finds himself exposed to the realities of war, shattering his early hopes of becoming a hero. (Wikipedia)
What truly stands out about this film is the unflinching brutal depiction of the trench warfare of the First World War. Kudos to director Berger for refusing to compromise his visceral vision of the horrors of war. The viewer is immersed in the terrifying battle sequences where survival is arbitrary, where life and limb are constantly at the whim of fate. The pointlessness of the gaining and losing of ground – that was emblematic of the Western Front – is driven home in an epic scene where the Germans take the French position but are soon driven back horrifically by French tanks and flame-throwers!
All Quiet on the Western Front is also about the soldiers – the young men who were initially brain-washed by tales of glory but quickly disavowed of such deluded notions when the bullets fly. This aspect is somewhat diminished by the film’s insistence of telling us the back story of the negotiations that led up to the 1918 Armistice that signalled the end of the war. Considering the significance of that event – ultimately leading to the rise of the Nazis and the Second World War – including this is understandable, especially for Germans BUT without that context, Paul, the protagonist’s journey is lessened.
Nonetheless, this anti-war film is still worth watching in order to gain a sobering appreciation of the realities of war. What is war good for? Absolutely nothing.
Watch All Quiet on the Western Front on Netflix.
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