All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) Other movies recommended for you
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Plot: This is an English language film (made in America) adapted from a novel by German author Erich Maria Remarque. The film follows a group of German schoolboys, talked into enlisting at the beginning of World War 1 by their jingoistic teacher. The story is told entirely through the experiences of the young German recruits and highlights the tragedy of war through the eyes of individuals. As the boys witness death and mutilation all around them, any preconceptions about "the enemy" and the "rights and wrongs" of the conflict disappear, leaving them angry and bewildered. This is highlighted in the scene where Paul mortally wounds a French soldier and then weeps bitterly as he fights to save his life while trapped in a shell crater with the body. The film is not about heroism but about drudgery and futility and the gulf between the concept of war and the actuality. the enemy Runtime: 145 mins Release Date: 23 Aug 1930
Erich Maria Remarque's novel and the film made from it may possibly be the greatest anti-war statement ever created. All Quiet on the Western Front won a deserved Best Picture Academy Award in the year it came out and brought great prestige to Universal Pictures as the first Oscar in that category won by that studio.Lew Ayres is the student leader of a bunch of German school boys in 1914 who listen to the voice of their school master and enlist in the war that's just been declared. The whole class enlists and that's not hyperbole because in Germany at the time it was the boys who <more>
got the education and the girls if they got it, got it separately from the boys. I'm sure that viewers of All Quiet on the Western Front today probably are asking why that school master and so many of his generation were urging their youth on to such folly. Very simply that their generation had a quick victory in 1870 in the Franco-Prussian War. Every generation since wars were recorded figures their war experience will be the same for their children.Only it wasn't. On the western front the Allied and Central Powers armies were locked in a bitter stalemate that ran diagonally across France and Belgium from the English Channel to the Swiss border. This went on for a little over four years. In fact had it not been for the fact that America joined the Allied side and the French and British held out until they did, I'm sure an honest armistice would have been declared long before November 11, 1918.You lived, fought and died in those trenches. Either you were defending or you were attacking the other guy's trenches against murderous automatic weapon fire and long distance artillery batteries. All Quiet on the Western Front was the first great war film of the American sound era and graphically shows that.And it shows that from the enemy perspective. That's something today's audience can't appreciate, the fact that the film was from the Wilhelmine German perspective. Remember these were the enemy a dozen years before. But the experience in the trenches was universal.Lew Ayres became a star with this film and it effected him so deeply that he became a committed pacifist which caused later problems in his career. He's the voice of reason and civilization and the voice of a lost generation of Germans who would never have listened to the demagogic appeals of the Nazis. Louis Wolheim plays the veteran soldier who befriends Ayres and his school boy chums and teaches them how to survive in the trenches. It turned out to be his greatest role. He was a brutish looking man and played mostly those types in silent films. All Quiet on the Western Front would have been the start of a whole new career opening. But Wolheim died the following year just as he was to start filming The Front Page. Adolphe Menjou took the part of Walter Burns in that film which Wolheim was to have.The third really stand out performance is that of John Wray who some might remember as the brutal prison guard in Each Dawn I Die. Wray plays an officious mail man who is in the German Army Reserve. He gets called up and this little nobody gets rather impressed with himself and his new found authority as a training sergeant to Ayres and his friends. Later on at the front, he gets a view of combat he wasn't quite ready for.All Quiet on the Western Front with its eternal message of peace and life will be one eternal film, it will be shown and appreciated for many generations to come.
As I write, this is probably the oldest film I've currently seen I haven't seen too many flicks pre-1950s - shameful, I know , but one that still holds astonishingly well to this day; a poignant and hard-hitting anti-war drama that details life in the German side of the trenches of WWI, it has lost none of its knuckle since it first veered onto the screens nearly 75 years ago. It makes its point and pulls no punches doing so, illustrating the impersonal coldness of war and the desolation in rendering an 'enemy' of someone who you'd really have no issues with on an <more>
individual basis. This message is particularly well-captured in one especially harrowing scene - I won't divulge in the details, for the sake of those still yet to witness this masterpiece, but needless to say, it's a real tear-jerker. The war depicted here is not one of glory and heroism, but one of hardship, horror and desperation. Also, isn't it kinda eerie how those dramatic battle sequences, in which the opposing soldiers become little more than human targets, now, with retrospect, echo the vicious gameplay of a shoot-em-up video game? The only really noticeable problem with this film comes in the heavy use of US accents, which clash somewhat with the German setting and therefore sound just a little offbeat. Nonetheless, the well-assembled cast more than compensate with some truly impassioned performances, notably from Lew Ayres, who is simply brilliant as Paul, the young protagonist coming of age in this harsh environment. His friendship with long-time solider Katczinsky adds moments of warmth as well as sorrow, and the dialogue exchanged between the close-knit group of soldiers is both absorbing and believable, drawing you closer into their world and experiencing their own frustration and disillusionment along with them. Right from the start, we know what's inevitable for the optimistic young soldiers as they head out to the trenches, but at the same time we value their hope and innocence and yearn that they might be able to retain it all the same, making it all the more tragic as the events of the battlefield lay waste to their youthful spirits.With its gripping direction and powerful imagery, it's a film that manages to leave a considerable imprint on the viewer, and I speak from experience on that one - upon reaching the end, both myself and the entire party I viewed it with were left speechless, and it took a good couple of minutes before any of us could pluck up the courage to break that uneasy silence. I don't know for sure when I'll be up for watching it a second time, but that final feeling certainly won't be going away from me any time soon, and I can almost guarantee this the kind of film you'll be glad for watching at least once. 'All Quiet on the Western Front' remains one of the must-see movies of its decade, and it's easy to see why, after all this time, it still has such a firm hold on that classic status - it may have arrived on the scene as far back as 1930, but its emotive edge is timeless.Grade: A+
In 1981, we had a screening at the L.A. County Museum of Art of the newly discovered restored version. I took my girlfriend, who was not as savvy on film history as I was, and warned her not to expect much: that the movie was dated, the acting often awkward and broad, and some of the sound effects just plain weird, and so on. When the screening finished, she leaned over to me and said, "This movie hasn't dated at all." I could only agree, because the effect on both of us--and everyone in that theatre--was overpowering. It's curious to compare it with the very fine tv version <more>
with Richard Thomas. The latter version has more scenes from the book and better acting, yet it's still inferior. It suffers from the lack of detail that so many tv productions had then along with comparatively flat lighting. The first version, on the other hand, has a look that resembles a documentary on World War I. They filmed it only eleven years after the war ended, and it contains a power only possible by those who've lived through an era being dramatized. Also, like CITIZEN KANE and DODSWORTH, it baffles one as to how Hollywood of this time produced such a non-escapist piece of entertainment.
"You still think it's beautiful to die for your country?",... (by elvircorhodzic)
A film about the horrors and suffering in the First World War. Through the story takes us to a group of young German soldiers. There is an interesting story from the perspective of German soldiers told in English.The motive, which draws young people on the battlefield is not strong, but it is not questionable. At the beginning of the film can be noticed that the young Germans highly motivated. Youthful enthusiasm and patriotism are not desirable traits.Horror followed by constant suffering on the Western Front is enough at the moment of breaking down every war motive. The boys continue to <more>
struggle even though their confidence shaken well. In the end they became soldiers and nothing more than that.The film is extremely powerful, emotional and perhaps too realistic. As much as I am shocked scattered body parts during the fight, which is certainly controversial in that period, I was more shocked by the mental state of the characters. Director Milestone has certainly been affected by silent film. I think it's only because of that conveyed the horror of the battlefield on the face of the main character. It is realistic and damn convincing.I am delighted by the fact that the director is not a single moment involved politics. The harsh reality of the Western Front is all what we need to see. The main message of the film is the absurdity of war. The message is hidden in the words of a young Paul and his comrades.Lew Ayres as Paul Baumer is excellent. Not everything is about Paul, but through his character we can understand the essence.Louis Wolheim as Stanislaus Katczinsky is mentor of young soldiers, and his performances are full of humanity and humor.In the conditions of trench warfare, man is exposed to the horror that it destroys the mind and body. Milestone shows small moments of laughter and joy, without which life would not make sense. ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT brings an anti-war story that must not be forgotten.
There are so many versions of the original print, all are outstanding. This is the story of youth in war. The Platoon of the 1930's, this is far one of the earliest best films ever made. There are moments as touching and still as powerful now then they were back in the cinema 70 plus years ago. Paul, who is the hope of the audience portraying the innocent generation that was sold into war. This is not only the German view but the view of the soldier. No matter what side they are fighting for, this is truth of the battle. The scenes of the soldiers eating and drinking together are as <more>
strong as the battle scenes. The story of the passing of the boots and the questioning of why they are there, fighting in the first place are what makes this movie great. By the end, when Paul dies, the audience is shocked as there is no happy ending, no redemption for the character. Like the Deer Hunter, the ending keeps the audience guessing and thinking about the nature of war. Some versions have the movie ending with music, others have the film close in silence. The silence is more fitting as we see the young faces walking away from the audience after they look back. Before them stands hundreds of white crosses marking their grave sites along the quiet western front.
I first saw this at 10 years old, it made a pacifist out of me before I knew what one was. It's not that simple of course: no one gets through life being totally pacific, but I draw the line at trying to kill strangers for my Masters or strangers trying to kill me for theirs. Literally a Milestone film this was the first Great talkie, its primitiveness and simplicity increasing its stark lustre. Film makers learnt quickly how to be more subtle at propaganda but sometimes a sincere message makes a point better.German boy is indoctrinated by school mouthpiece of the caviar-guzzling class to <more>
go to war, he does with stars in his eyes, loses the stars, tries not to get killed, that's all. The squalor and horror of trench warfare in WW1 is relentlessly hammered home was this how deathlessly romantic Homer's siege of Ilium should have really looked? There isn't any tragic background music or heavy concepts ground out by the main characters to distract - everyone is an ordinary guy whose thoughts are clay. During WW1 representatives of British, French, German and Russian arms manufacturers regularly met in Switzerland to trade, with the blessings of their respective governments. Without them there wouldn't have been a WW1 or this film either. The young Lew Ayres played his heart out, a decade later in WW2 he was a Conscientous Objector. On the journey we're shown Behn's useless harrowing death, Kemmerich's amputation and useless boots, the French soldier uselessly trying to kill Ayres in the crater but not succeeding much to Ayres later passionate useless regret, the Dying Room in the useless hospital all vividly memorable scenes amongst many others. But none more so as war-bitten Ayres' electrifying diatribe returning to the classroom near the end telling the kids how it is but unfortunately not providing the answer: Just Say No, and in those days, Scram. The useless but heartbreakingly poignant ending is the last straw: if you have tears prepare to shed them now.A classic film with a classic message that will apply as long as class based society does. If you too thought the whole world had changed since then just look around, to Iraq/Afghanistan, Chechnya, Somalia, Colombia, Spain et al.
Still One of the Best Movies of Its Kind (by Snow Leopard)
Still one of the most worthwhile films about the hard realities of war, "All Quiet On The Western Front" has numerous memorable images and thoughtful moments. Too many war dramas, regardless of their perspective, resort to distortions of history and overblown characters that make them convincing only to those who watch uncritically. This one works nicely by keeping the characters low-key and by, for the most part, allowing the events and situations to speak for themselves. It's not perfect in this respect, and it is perhaps a movie more to be respected than enjoyed, but it has <more>
many notable strengths.The characters, most of them young soldiers, are played very simply, even plainly, but this is by no means a weakness - rather, it allows the movie to show what war is like for real soldiers rather than for idealized or stereotyped characters. The two most important characters are developed more fully, and are played well. Louis Wolheim's resourceful 'Kat' is the liveliest of the soldiers, and as Paul, Lew Ayres is quite understated but very believable. His character is well-chosen as the focal point of most of the movie. The close-fighting nature of World War I particularly lends itself to this kind of movie, and the atmosphere is convincing and detailed. The contrast with the civilian scenes is also set up well, although the civilian scenes sometimes seem slightly less convincing. The overall effect is a movie that, while you probably wouldn't call it exciting or fun, is one you won't forget.
A detailed and thought-provoking account of war (by The_Void)
Before watching this epic masterpiece, I never quite understood what it is that makes people want to fight a war that was started by some politician, and after watching this film; I'm even more baffled. With it's ambiguous portrait of war, All Quiet on the Western Front never actually condemns nor condones the act of war, but through it's portrait; the anti-war message more than shine through. Multiple scenes show the hideousness of war, and through watching this film it becomes apparent that war is futile and a disgraceful waste of human life. We follow the mis fortune of a <more>
group of young adults who, due to the patriotic words of their teacher, decide to join the war effort. The rest of the film pans out as a sort of coming of age story in the middle of a great feud. We watch the protagonists as they stare death in the face and learn what is and isn't important when you risk your life at every passing moment.This was one of the first films to announce America as a major film-making nation as with it's epic battle sequences and first class acting, All Quiet on the Western Front impresses on a technical level, as well as impressing with it's detailed and thought-provoking account of war. The film features numerous excellent scenarios, all of which are thought provoking in the context of the film, but also in life on the whole. Consider the part where one young man is told that maths problems are a waste of time as he could stop a bullet at any time, or the sequence that sees a soldier try to save the life of his fellow man that he has stabbed in the stomach a French soldier, but still a fellow man . Not to mention the classy finish. Whichever way you look at it; this film is a masterpiece. It succeeds on a technical level and also does what films were created to do; entertain and inspire thought from their audiences. There are some films that every film buff must see regardless of their genre preferences. This is one of them.
In 1930, three great pacifist films were released, in the United States, Lewis Milestone's "All Quiet on the Western Front;" in Germany, G.W. Pabst's "Westfront 1918;" and the English film by Anthony Asquith, "Tell England." Of the three, Milestone's film was the one that has received most acclaim...Based on the novel by German author Erich Maria Remarque, "All Quiet on the Western Front" tells the story of a teenager brought up to believe in the values of patriotism, militarism and the glorious death... The teenager returns on leave to his <more>
school where the schoolmaster who has taught him the values that he now despises greets him with ecstasy...As a fighter he is treated with great respect, and the eager young children wait to be aroused by thrilling tales... He has none. There is no heroism. There is no glory. 'We live in the trenches and we fight. We try not to be killed - that's all!'The film is totally committed to its proposition war is evil; not only the First World War which is portrayed in the film, but all war.The motion picture, considered among the screen's most powerful indictments of the futility of war, contains many excellent sequences and set-pieces which still keep their power: the pair of boots being continually taken over as successive owners are killed; Lew Ayres talking impotently on about the brotherhood of man and the futility of killing as he watches his French enemy die beside him in a shell crater; Ayres carrying the wounded Wolheim on his back and talking cheerfully to him, ignoring he has been killed by a shell splinter; and of course, the closing scene of the hand reaching out from the trenches to seize a butterfly only to fall back slowly as an enemy's bullet falls home...Despite dated moments, this highly emotive war film retains its overall power and remains a great pacifist work... The film won won Oscars for Best Picture and Best Director and was nominated for Best Cinematography & Best Writing...