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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>
Before watching this epic masterpiece, I never quite understood what it is that makes people want to fight a war that was started by some politician, and after watching this film; I'm even more baffled. With it's ambiguous portrait of war, All Quiet on the Western Front never actually condemns (nor condones) the act of war, but through it's portrait; the anti-war message more than shine through. Multiple scenes show the hideousness of war, and through watching this film it becomes apparent that war is futile and a disgraceful waste of human life. We follow the (mis)fortune of a group of young adults who, due to the patriotic words of their teacher, decide to join the war effort. The rest of the film pans out as a sort of coming of age story in the middle of a great feud. We watch the protagonists as they stare death in the face and learn what is and isn't important when you risk your life at every passing moment.
This was one of the first films to announce America as a major film-making nation as with it's epic battle sequences and first class acting, All Quiet on the Western Front impresses on a technical level, as well as impressing with it's detailed and thought-provoking account of war. The film features numerous excellent scenarios, all of which are thought provoking in the context of the film, but also in life on the whole. Consider the part where one young man is told that maths problems are a waste of time as he could stop a bullet at any time, or the sequence that sees a soldier try to save the life of his fellow man that he has stabbed in the stomach (a French soldier, but still a fellow man). Not to mention the classy finish. Whichever way you look at it; this film is a masterpiece. It succeeds on a technical level and also does what films were created to do; entertain and inspire thought from their audiences. There are some films that every film buff must see regardless of their genre preferences. This is one of them.
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