This is an English language film (made in America) adapted from a novel by German author Erich Maria Remarque. The film follows a group of German schoolboys, talked into enlisting at the beginning of World War 1 by their jingoistic teacher. The story is told entirely through the experiences of the young German recruits and highlights the tragedy of war through the eyes of individuals. As the boys witness death and mutilation all around them, any preconceptions about "the enemy" and the "rights and wrongs" of the conflict disappear, leaving them angry and bewildered. This is highlighted in the scene where Paul mortally wounds a French soldier and then weeps bitterly as he fights to save his life while trapped in a shell crater with the body. The film is not about heroism but about drudgery and futility and the gulf between the concept of war and the actuality.Written by
Michele Wilkinson, University of Cambridge Language Centre, <email@example.com>
All Quiet on the Western Front is the first great non-silent anti-war movie and arguably the most powerful one to date. Based on the critically acclaimed homonymous novel by Erich Maria Remarque, it portraits the transformations a young German soldier suffers during the World War I: the innocence before the war and the promise of everlasting glory, the shock with reality and the realization of his own mortality and of the hypocrisy of war and finally the return to the world away from the trenches, a world that didn't stop to wait for him.
Full of symbolisms, violence and impressive camera work, the whole film is a cinematographic masterpiece. The viewer is placed directly in the battlefield to the point he can almost grasp the blood-soaped earth of the trenches and smell the rotten corpses in no-man's land.
There's two layers I can find in this movie: the first one tells us about the physical destruction endured in a war – hunger, dirt, explosions, amputations, diseases, death The film does not try to hide the truth, war is ugly and dirty, it is constant suffering and painful. If the first layer is strong enough to create a strong impression on the viewer, the second one is even more powerful: the psychological breakdown the soldiers experience is masterfully portrayed. The excitement turns into doubt, the doubt into disgust, the disgust into anger and the anger into complete numbness. A young promising student is gradually transformed into a soulless killing machine.
Also the acting deserves to be mentioned. The entire cast delivers stand up performances, especially Louis Wolheim and Lew Ayres who depict masterfully two generations united by war.
The only flaw I could find on this is the strong American accent on the few German words spoken, fact that can distract a bit especially on the beginning of the movie.
Overall, this is an overwhelming experience and a mandatory watch to every war film lover!
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