All Quiet on the Western Front

All Quiet on the Western Front ★★★½

Where this succeeds is in pushing past our comfort zones, desensitised over many years of news consumption and internet usage, finding ways of graphically affecting us in ways we thought (a sort of) fiction no longer could. Like Jennifer Kent's stomach-churning The Nightingale, All Quiet on the Western Front makes its point repeatedly right before our eyes - and later behind our eyelids. Soldiers crushed under tanks, skin caked in mud and guts, limbs sawn off like fresh timbre, the film assaults you with scenes from when humanity sunk to its unforgivable lowest.

It exposes other war films for being too soft on war, making a mockery of every movie that ever used the setting for emotionally manipulative storytelling and thinly veiled nationalism. It's a disgusting and harrowing piece of work that anyone in a position of power ought to consider essential viewing; although, as depicted, those who sit comfortably making decisions in baroque rooms feasting while millions die have always existed, and I strongly believe it is only those people who should be anywhere near No Man's Land.

In every way a technical marvel, the film devastates more so on an existential level than an emotional one, aside from one tragic scene in a crater that cements the fucking futility of it all. It's a powerful piece of filmmaking that ought to be the final line on war, but that lingering despair at the end is knowing how many more times since 1918 these actions have been repeated and will go on being so.

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