Arts and Entertainment

Movie Review: All Quiet On the Western Front

Edward Berger directed a new film adaptation of All Quiet on the Western Front, which was released to Netflix on October 28th. The film is the first German-made version of Erich Maria Remarque’s famed World War I novel, originally written in German and published in 1928. 

The first film version of the novel, directed by Lewis Milestone and released in 1930, was a key player in early American sound filmmaking. A second version was released in 1979, directed by Delbert Mann and starring Richard Thomas. 

The newest of the films is two and a half hours long, and every minute is packed with action and emotion. Although the shocking and sometimes gory scenes may be disturbing to certain viewers, each frame is beautifully crafted to provide a vivid image and a lasting impression. The movie follows Paul Bäumer, a young German enlistee in World War I who finds himself in a traumatizing scene much different from the heroic battles he once imagined. A patriotic professor convinces Paul and several classmates to join the military and save the fatherland. But instead, they are met with the horrid realities of grisly war and tasked with fighting for their lives in the trenches.

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The film not only provides an entertaining and moving story with lovable characters. It combines the arts of filmmaking and music with literature and history to create an unforgettable and emotional experience. Each aspect of the film works together to create an immersive and ultimately terrifying experience that effectively portrays the anti-war theme the directors aimed to achieve. The set and costume design are complex and historically accurate. The chilling musical score contributes to the suspenseful and dreadful atmosphere. The acting, in particular, is one of the most outstanding aspects of the film. Twenty-seven-year-old Austrian actor Felix Kammerer made his film debut starring as Paul Bäumer, providing an exquisite performance. Danny Leigh of The Financial Times described Kammerer as a “remarkable newcomer” in filmmaking. 

The film has already seen success with awards. Film designers Victor Müller, Frank Petzold, and Markus Frank won the European Film Award for Best Visual Effects. In addition, makeup and hair designer Heike Merker won the European Film Award for Best Makeup and Hairstyling. The artfully designed adaptation represents Erich Maria Remarque’s classic and timeless novel and builds a unique story and message. It is certainly not for the faint of heart. More often than not, it is brutal, gory, and terrifying. However, all the details contributing to the emotional distress evoked in the viewer provide a fresh look at the timeless horrors of war. Although sometimes difficult to watch, the skillfully crafted cinematic work is both an unforgettable tale of friendship and a crucial reminder of the evil humanity is capable of inflicting upon itself. 

By Lily Schwedhelm’24 Junior Editor-in-Chief