Amicia’s review published on Letterboxd:
“I’m afraid of what’s to come.”
Edward Berger’s All Quiet on the Western Front is a beautifully crafted film, but a pretty disappointing adaptation of Remarque’s novel. That’s not to say that Berger’s film didn’t try and hit the same themes, just that it went for weaving them into a very modernized war film, sacrificing a lot of what I wanted to see.
I really could’ve done without the armistice scenes, and the accompanying contrasting scenes with General Friedrich (literally our mustachioed villain). I understand why they chose to go this route; to really highlight the legacy of the war and allude to the ramifications that it would have later. But they really just could’ve adapted more of Paul’s camaraderie with his friends at the front end before they left for the army, and his dealing with the war in those months when they were not at the front. I wanted more of the quiet that is sort of the point, which this film feels like it really didn’t want to do.
By far the best scene of the film was Paul’s confrontation with the French soldier in the crater. It pales in comparison to the novel, but I do think it was adapted to the film medium pretty strongly. It hits those same emotional highs.
If there’s any one single reason to watch this film, it’s for the visuals. There is such beautiful photography throughout the whole film, complete with fantastic lighting – those damn flare shots – and incredible uses of wide shots and negative space. Production design was entirely on point.
I suppose I just wish that the film tightened itself up a lot more. I really wanted Paul’s story, intimately told. What a damn shame.