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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, <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Considering the censored era in which the film was made, it is an extremely powerful film. Based on one of my favourite books, whose author fled Nazi Germany, the film simply portrays the characters. The huge gulf between the attitudes held by the soldiers and civilians is excellently displayed in the scene where Paul's Father insists on taking him out, and they say that the Army should go on to Paris. "They just don't realise" Paul tells his friend Kat when he returns. So true of all nationalities.
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