All Quiet on the Western Front

All Quiet on the Western Front ★★

Didn’t buy it! Stately in its composition and calculated in it delivery of gory misery, All Quiet on the Western Front is more a facsimile of war’s horrors than a worthwhile reflection on the callous mechanics of war and the compound traumas it leads to—a problem given that those are the terms for success that director Edward Berger sets himself. Audience engagement is placed above all else, undercutting any grander statements (of which there are few) on the small cogs that turn the big wheel of war. A problem with the cinematic form and its language as a whole, perhaps, but no-one was forced to make this. Case in point: hundreds of dead young adults shouldn’t be played as a dramatic reveal, and yet its cut here like a mic drop. Likewise the action sequences are so transparently designed to thrill that their grisliness lacks any emotional effect, Berger favouring showily chaotic tracking shots in the mode of 1917. In the end it remains marginally more interesting than 1917 since it’s not wholly subsumed by the technical aspects, but it fits right in on Netflix.

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