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, <email@example.com>
SEE all of the famed characters in ERICH MARIA REMARQUE'S world-stirring novel - Louis Wolheim as Katzcinsky, Lewis Ayres as Paul Baumer, John Wray as Sergeant Himmelstoss. See Tjaden, the French girls across the canal, Paul's mother - every one of the folks in the book is here! See more »
The Greek writing on the blackboard in the schoolroom is the beginning of Homer's "Odyssey": "Tell me Oh Muse of that ingenious hero who traveled far and wide". See more »
When the young recruits go out on their first patrol, a dead soldier is still breathing and blinking his eyes. 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.
See more »
Later reissues of the film mentioned that the film was an Academy Award winner in the opening credits. See more »
In 1939, the film was re-released with two major changes: the first was the addition of a voice-over narration comparing the WWI German soldiers depicted quite favorably to the Nazi army that had just begun to sweep across Europe. The second change was the addition of a new scene at the end, showing Nazis burning books -- including the one on which the film is based. See more »
Still one of the most worthwhile films about the hard realities of war, "All Quiet On The Western Front" has numerous memorable images and thoughtful moments. Too many war dramas, regardless of their perspective, resort to distortions of history and overblown characters that make them convincing only to those who watch uncritically. This one works nicely by keeping the characters low-key and by, for the most part, allowing the events and situations to speak for themselves. It's not perfect in this respect, and it is perhaps a movie more to be respected than enjoyed, but it has many notable strengths.
The characters, most of them young soldiers, are played very simply, even plainly, but this is by no means a weakness - rather, it allows the movie to show what war is like for real soldiers rather than for idealized or stereotyped characters. The two most important characters are developed more fully, and are played well. Louis Wolheim's resourceful 'Kat' is the liveliest of the soldiers, and as Paul, Lew Ayres is quite understated but very believable. His character is well-chosen as the focal point of most of the movie.
The close-fighting nature of World War I particularly lends itself to this kind of movie, and the atmosphere is convincing and detailed. The contrast with the civilian scenes is also set up well, although the civilian scenes sometimes seem slightly less convincing. The overall effect is a movie that, while you probably wouldn't call it exciting or fun, is one you won't forget.
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