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All Quiet on the Western Front

All Quiet on the Western Front

This story is neither an accusation nor a confession, and least of all an adventure, for death is not an adventure to those who stand face to face with it. It will try simply to tell of a generation of men who, even though they may have escaped its shells, were destroyed by the war...


Country: USA

Year: 1930

Directed by: Lewis Milestone

Screenplay by: Erich Maria Remarque (novel), Maxwell Anderson, George Abbott

Cast: Louis Volheim, Lew Ayres, John Wray, Arnold Lucy, Ben Alexander, Scott Kolk


All Quiet on the Western Front is the first great non-silent anti-war movie and arguably the most powerful one to date. Based on the critically acclaimed homonymous novel by Erich Maria Remarque, it portraits the transformations a young German soldier suffers during the World War I: the innocence before the war and the promise of everlasting glory, the shock with reality and the realization of his own mortality and of the hypocrisy of war and finally the return to the world away from the trenches, a world that didn’t stop to wait for him.

Full of symbolisms, violence and impressive camera work, the whole film is a cinematographic masterpiece. The viewer is placed directly in the battlefield to the point he can almost grasp the blood-soaped earth of the trenches and smell the rotten corpses in no-man’s land.

There’s two layers I can find in this movie: the first one tells us about the physical destruction endured in a war – hunger, dirt, explosions, amputations, diseases, death… The film does not try to hide the truth, war is ugly and dirty, it is constant suffering and painful.
If the first layer is strong enough to create a strong impression on the viewer, the second one is even more powerful: the psychological breakdown the soldiers experience is masterfully portrayed. The excitement turns into doubt, the doubt into disgust, the disgust into anger and the anger into complete numbness. A young promising student is gradually transformed into a soulless killing machine.

Also the acting deserves to be mentioned. The entire cast delivers stand up performances, especially Louis Wolheim and Lew Ayres who depict masterfully two generations united by war.

The only flaw I could find on this is the strong American accent on the few German words spoken, fact that can distract a bit especially on the beginning of the movie.

Overall, this is an overwhelming experience and a mandatory watch to every war film lover!