All Quiet on the Western Front (1930), a look back.

As I said in my previous post, I have watched 231 movies thus far in the Revised and Updated 501 Must-See Movies book.  Now that I have undertaken the task of reviewing each, there are quite a lot to go back and review.  I am currently watching Stalag 17, and while I’m watching, I will review All Quiet on the Western Front (1930).

A few excerpts from the book:

“Based on Erich Maria Remarque’s novel, this devastating film was a milestone in anti-war movies, particularly as it is an American movie seen from the German side.  The penultimate scene, when the young soldier sees the beauty of a butterfly amidst the carnage, is justly celebrated…So realistic were these sequences that they have often been used in documentary films of the war.”

There were a number of things that impressed me with this movie.  The progression of story, level of acting, and effects given the time period all contributed to an excellent story with a unique perspective.  As the book so said, this was an American movie written from the German perspective.

The movie follows seven idealistic school boys who sign up for the army after an enthusiastic teacher gives an impassioned speech about how patriotic and dutiful it would be for them to join the war effort.  I found it interesting listening to virtually the same speech when Paul Braumer, one of the boys, returns back to the same classroom a couple of years later.  It’s very different given what had happened in the hour or so of the movie, a number of those original seven killed, and the Braumer gives a more realistic view of what takes place during war.

The idealism very quickly vanished from the original 7 soldiers the story follows.  One of the tougher scenes to watch was when Braumer got into a hand-to-hand fight with a French soldier, and the result haunting Braumer for the rest of the film.  As with the actual war, the movie starts with the Germans very successful but ultimately running out of resources, and men, the war effort seems futile.

I cannot imagine how war would change someone.  It makes me think how much more carefully countries ought to be before entering into war. I am sure this movie was effective in bringing this to the forefront of American society.  It is movies like this that bring something such as the hardships of war into discussion.

I would recommend this movie, but it’s one that I would probably not want to watch more than a couple of times.

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars.


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