Review: All Quiet on the Western Front

In 1917, a young German solider Paul (Felix Kammerer) is headed off to war on the Western front in France. He and his friends are bright eyed and ready to serve their country, and we follow them through the horrors of war that await them.

I've never seen the Oscar winning 1930's version nor have I read the novel, so I can't compare them to this. But what I can say is that this is an absolutely incredible film. I had wondered if it would feel similar to 1917, another recent WWI epic, but it takes good care not to feel repetative.

Kammerer really runs the gauntlet with this performance. When we meet Paul, dude is way too excited to go to war. Propaganda will do that to you I guess. Then when he witnesses the hell it actually is, it's like we see the live drained from his eyes in real time. Suddenly he's a sunken in shell of his former self. His only moments of levity are the occasional jest with his friends and comrades, but there's always a sense of dread in these scenes. We know someone will likely die in the next.

I love the juxtaposition between the dirty trenches and famished soldiers with the pampered higher ups. In a side story, Matthais Erzberger (Daniel Bruhl) is attempting to end the war, but he's in a comfortable train car eating fancy meals as he's on his way to it. It's a sick comparison, and one that makes you feel for the soliders more.

Another highlight is Volker Bertelmann's booming score. I wish there was more of it. We don't hear it often, but it's alarming every time we do.

This is Germany's submission for International Film at the Oscars and I would be absolutely shocked if it's snubbed. I hope the Oscars can give Kammerer some love as well, because he certainly deserves it. I'm glad Netflix is housing this film. I'm sure a German war film would be a hard sell in theaters so I hope it gets a ton of viewers on this medium.

Grade: A


  1. I can't imagine another film topping the masterwork that the 1930 film is, especially considering the command Milestone shows of the medium a year after the industry fully committed to sound but the story is so strong it can withstand many adaptations.

    I'm sure this one brings new perspectives to it so that would add interest. I did see the 1979 TV adaptation starring Richard Thomas, Ernest Borgnine, Patricia Neal and a cast of other distinguished names. It was a solid take and won accolades but still didn't match that first film.

    I own the book and it is on my long to read list but it isn't something you just dive into, though it isn't terribly long but I've been told by those who have read it that it's intense.

    1. I'm the opposite since I saw this first, I can't image the 30's version being better than this lol. I will definitely watch it for comparison though.

  2. I do hope to see this before the year ends as I have seen the original film and it is intense for its time.

    1. I've heard that. This is very intense too. So much so that I was getting mad when certain characters were making poor decisions.

  3. I'd love to see this remake since, most of the time, all Germans are portrayed as Nazi loving goosesteppers who knew all about what was happening to the Jewish people. My mom was in the Hitler Youth and thought it silly to say Heil Hitler with her arm fully outstretched so she just did a quick lower arm raise and said ," Heitler". My grandfather ended up in a concentration camp for speaking his mind. It was just horrible. When you rhino what ias going on in your own land now( and mine), how many today would follow a nut like Hitler who gCe the the average Joe the Volkswagen, the autobahn- freeway and school for every kid like Kindergarten. Scary isn't it? Ughh...I do go on Don I. I love the original film which, to me, is one of the best films. I have seen the remake with Richard Thomas which is solid although not as good as the original. I hope this one shows that Germans are not all bad. Funny, during WW1, the many films that were made showed the nasty Germans throwing babies out of Windows which is why Erich Von Stroheim is called the Man you love to hate. The 1930 film was only made 12 yrs later and won Best Picture. I am going on way too long here...hahaaa.

    1. The Trump presidency has shown me exactly the kind of people that would rally behind someone like Hitler. Because my family is from Germany too, I agree it's nice to see instances with Germans that aren't SS Nazis. I would say this doesn't get heavy into it, but shows how a lot of propaganda can excite people into fighting a war.


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