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>
Lewis Milestone deliberately made the film without music so as not to take away from the seriousness of the subject. Much to his chagrin, however, some movie theaters added music in of their own choosing, as they weren't used to having films delivered to them without any form of background scoring. See more »
During the attack on the town and the cemetery, for a brief shot Germans are all retreating. In the next shot, they are attacking again and running forward. See more »
Man cleaning doorknob:
From the Russians?
Man cleaning doorknob:
No, from the French. From the Russians we capture more than that every day.
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Later reissues of the film mentioned that the film was an Academy Award winner in the opening credits. See more »
Re-issue prints (particularly for 1940's and later TV releases) were cut to 108 minutes, and the soundtrack was altered by the distributor, especially during the final sequence where music was added contrary to director Lewis Milestone's wishes. In 1980, before his death, Milestone asked Universal to restore the film and remove the music to the final scene. In 1998, about 26 minutes were reinstated to resemble the original 1930 cut, and Milestone's wishes were finally honored. See more »
From the fact it was made in 1930, you could class 'All Quiet on the Western Front' as a war movie museum piece, but Lewis Milestone's film is a seminal piece of anti-war propaganda, focusing on the Great War from the perspective of a group of German soldiers, in particular Paul Baumer (Lew Ayres). Ayres gives a sensitive and powerful performance: by the 2nd World War the actor chose to serve as a medic, where he gained distinction.
Remembered for the sequence with the butterfly at the end in particular, this early talkie manages to set its scene and transmit a powerful message. An involving and clever film which on its recent restoration and cinema re-release has taken on new significance in the 21st century.
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