All Quiet on the Western Front was brutal. It took me days to get through it, and by the end I just fast forwarded the last ten minutes of violent futility.
A war story should be a horror story and this one was the most nerve wracking of horror stories. It was brilliant in every way, stunning even, the cinematography, the soundtrack, but just too much for me.
I couldn’t get it out of my head that the human race decided this slaughter fest wasn’t enough and uped the ante 25 years later with WW2.
Lead actor’s Felix Kammerer’s transformation from enthusiastic schoolboy to shell-shocked trench ghost was riveting.
Director Dennis Berger was on a mission to show there’s no beauty in war. He did that by creating starkly contrasting scenes, shot in rich saturated colors with steadicam stunts to put us in the middle of a meticulously choreographed brutal and balletic battlefield.
This is the third adaptation of Remarque’s novel, a novel written just after the end of the war.
For German Berger, the story was bred to the bone and he added the armistice negotiation to the original story. "This moment in the train is a very important event in German history in terms of the Second World War because that character, Erzberger, he was basically picked on or sort of picked as a patsy by the military to sign this armistice because they didn't want to admit that they were going to lose this. They basically, a week later, they started saying, 'well, we would have won, politics betrayed us' to save face. Four years later, Matthias Erzberger, Daniel Brühl's character, was actually assassinated by nationalists.”
I couldn’t take it. The capacity for violence humans carry in our hearts is too much to bear these days. There’s no doubt in my mind All Quiet on the Western Front is the best picture of the last year. Berger succeeded in capturing his hellish vision. But my heart has been shredded by the daily toll of death by gun.
How many films do we have to see to get the truth of who we are?