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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 is a very good anti-war movie. It shows how the young and naive are being brain-washed to think that somehow it is their duty to kill and die. Big words like Fatherland, Kaiser, God, Patriotism. But it is always the young generation that does the dying, whilst the old men discuss strategy over a beer. War has lost whatever legitimacy it ever may have had when the leaders left the front line to lead from the back, safe in their headquarters miles away from the killing. Sending young boys to their death whilst claiming it is eventually for the Good is the ultimate cowardice. Some get their come-uppance, such as Cpl Himmelstoss, but most live their lives in the comfortable cocoon of their self-righteousness the school teacher, the father, the Kaiser himself.
But sometimes a young soldier sees through the scam, as when Paul kills a Frenchman by sheer instinct, only too late realising what he has been forced to do to someone who might have been his brother. But even then the cultural impregnation is too strong for him to follow his true human feelings and draw the only logical conclusion. And of course in the end he pays the price himself. Destroyed - for what?
That is the lesson that we all should take to heart, to this very day.
A very good film based on an exceptional book.
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