Movies reviews with matching food – eat, watch, enjoy
Starring Louis Wolheim & Lew Ayres
World War I, Germany. Young lads are told there is honour in dying for King and Country. They enlist and so begins the disturbing journey of a group of nineteen year-old German soldiers in the midst of a terrifying conflict they do not understand.
This is an incredible film. Especially when you think about when it was produced. This epic was sandwiched between two mindblowing conflicts that shook the earth. The world was on the brink of yet another terrifying war and once again the Germans were smack-bang in the middle. And yet this film was made from the perspective of a group of young German men who believed that they were fighting for the Fatherland; they were sacrificing for the good of the nation.
But in the midst of bombardments, death and despair, all they have left is the question, why? They discuss the purpose of the war and how it started. The central theme to the film is the inhumanity of war. At one stage Paul finds himself attacking an allied soldier and then suffers immense guilt. He says to the dying man that he is “just a man like me!”
And another time one soldier talks about putting all the leaders of the warring nations in a field in their underwear and letting them have a go at each other, “we’ll sell tickets!”
This is a well crafted film. It still has echoes from the silent film era with action scenes often being sped up. I loved how a pair of boots was used to record the successive deaths of soldiers as if the boots themselves were a sign of doom. There was no music except the tunes being played by the characters; it was all ambiance, which was quite effective. This contributed to the authenticity of the thing, you could almost taste the gun powder. This realism was most apparent in the famous trench battle scenes. The images of allied soldiers being mowed down by the Germans was actually quite disturbing and humbling.
I don’t know of another film that handles the ‘war’ with such sensitivity and tact. It never overtly judges the Germans. Rather, it highlights their naivity and relative ‘innocence’. This is a film for people, not governments, not leaders. And at the end, well, what a devastating moment.
All Quiet on the Western Front Trivia:
Don’t miss out next Monday we are reviewing Cimarron, starring Richard Dix and Irene Dunn. While I haven’t fully investigated my local dvd store, I know this is available on Youtube. Check ya then, Oh and don’t forget to leave your thoughts! I’d love to know what you think!