A review of a new film version of “All Quiet On The Western Front”

I’ve not read the novel by Erich Maria Remarque (1929) or seen the Academy Award-winning film version (1930), but – following a recommendation from my brother – I was determined to see this new German-language adaptation on the big screen even though it is a Netflix production. I’m pleased that I did because the cinematography is wonderful and a cinema showing maximises the impact of this powerful work.

The director Edward Berger and the cast – the focus is on young Felix Kammerer as the 17 year old soldier Paul Bäumer – are German, but the film was shot in the Czech Republic and most of the technical team were Czech. The depiction of the appalling life in the trenches and the terrifying attacks over ‘no man’s land’ are brilliantly done and I was particularly moved by details like the collection of ‘dog’s tags’ from the dead and the recycling of uniforms from the deceased.

Opening in the spring of 1917, the narrative concludes with the peace ‘negotiations’ of November 1918 – which was not in the novel but provides historic context – and underlines the hopeless position of the German politicians and the hardline posture of the French military. The film is a tough watch with considerable violence and brutality but it seems that every generation has to be reminded that war really is hell.


XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>