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Paul Baumer is a young German who, along with his graduating high school classmates, enlist in the German Imperial Army during the First World War. Originally thinking war would be a great adventure, Paul and his friends discover exactly the opposite as the war drags on and one by one the members of the class are killed in action until only Paul remains. Written by
Anthony Hughes <email@example.com>
This 1979 remake of Lewis Milestones 1930 classic anti war film tells the story of German youths who enlist in the Kaisers army to fight for the Fatherland in the great war. Based on the masterful novel by Erich Maria Remarque the youths who join at the encouragement of their schoolteacher with dreams of glory quickly learn the horror of war. Some parts of this version are better than the original and in others the 1930 version still stands out
Ian Holm's portrayal of Himmelstoss the sadistic drill instructor comes off somewhat better than in the original. In this version he is not the boys hometown postman so the viewer only sees him as the stern and cruel D.I.. His cowardice scene is also handled better. Veteran actor Ernest Borgnine as Kat the group leader is only a tad off as being as good as Louis Wolheims. Richard Thomas as Paul Baumer the central figure is about neck and neck with Lew Ayres original. Donald Pleasance is convincing as Kantorek the boys schoolteacher who tells them their plans for the future must be put on hold in favor of serving the Fatherland. Both this and the 1930 recently restored version should be watched back to back if possible.
Many films that are remade often times do not stand up to their original counterparts but this 1979 film does. Considering it was a made for TV film makes that quite an accomplishment. If you enjoyed Saving Private Ryan you'll enjoy this one as well.
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