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All Quiet on the Western Front

All Quiet on The Western Front (Berger)

If you didn't read this book in your middle school curriculum, I'm sorry to say but your history teacher failed you. All Quiet was one of my favorite novels growing up, as it was my fathers. Its been some time since I read it, but I'm very tempted to revisit now.

The adaptation takes some liberties, as you're to expect. Some work in its favor & some maybe take away.

What's done well:
1. Showing the element of shock the young German boys felt when entering France, the death of their ignorance
2. The added political scenes- showing the primary benevolence of those back home & even the generals not in the front line. With less than 10 minutes of screen time, the "fat pig" general is as good of a villain as you can find
3. The visual brutality of war while still holding a very human lense to the situation. This is something European cinema tends to do better than American

What's Missing:
In the book you grow very attached to the fleet and the different characters hopelessly fighting in it. The film never created such an emotional attachment, and at the end they feel as two-dimensional and numerical as any other soldier killed in the field. With the exception of the Stanislaus down-fall.

Overall it's a great war film- which shows the true horrors at a level I haven't witnessed since Come and See . It's incredibly well-made and designed, & a worthy nominee for best picture.