All Quiet on the Western Front

All Quiet on the Western Front ★★★★

Edward Berger’s drama about a young German soldier's frightening experiences and anguish on the western front throughout the First World War. In German with English subtitles.

This is an adaptation of the novel of the same name by Erich Maria Remarque, which was published in 1929.

However, this is not the first version of the novel to be adapted for the big screen, as Lewis Milestone did his effort only a year after the book came out, which went on to win two Academy Awards – Best Picture and Best Director.

Edward Berger’s adaptation has been submitted as the German entry for the Academy Award for Best International Feature Film – and, for me, I reckon this has a strong chance of making the final shortlist.

The story concerns conflict which breaks out in Germany in 1914. Paul Bäumer (Felix Kammerer) and his classmates rapidly recruit in the military to serve their fatherland. No nearer are they recruited than the first pictures from the battlefield show them the existence of battle.

Felix Kammerer gives a very good performance in his role as the young soldier who has harrowing experiences and worries as the conflict carries on, while Daniel Brühl is decent in his part as the German politician Matthias Erzberger.

Elsewhere, there are fine performances to be had from Albrecht Schuch as Stanislaus "Kat" Katczinsky, Thibault de Montalembert as General Ferdinand Foch and Devid Striesow as General Friedrichs, while the rest of the cast are respectable.

The direction from Berger is very good because he allows the facial expressions to be seen to a strong and powerful effect throughout, while also keeping a mixed atmosphere and a dark tone happening as well and the script is written to a decent standard by the director, Ian Stokell and Lesley Patterson as they make the movie good to follow.

The camera and sound stand out best in terms of the technical aspects, because the camera makes very good use of the locations and also captures the tense and dramatic moments well, which get the edge-of-the-seat status; the sound is excellent as you have to listen carefully.

The only criticism I have is that the pace is a little slow at times.

Overall, despite the pacing, All Quiet on the Western Front is a very decent, gripping and powerful adaptation of the novel, due to the good performances, direction, script, mixed atmosphere, dark tone, tense moments, cinematography and sound.

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