All Quiet on the Western Front

All Quiet on the Western Front ★★★★½

Brutally realistic, extremely powerful, and emotionally devastating, All Quiet on the Western Front is up there with Saving Private Ryan, Paths of Glory, and 1917 as some of the best movies that perfectly recreate just how brutal and awful war is. I may prefer those other war films slightly more to this one, but it should not diminish how an amazing piece of filmmaking All Quiet on the Western Front is. First off, the story is very well-told and incredibly engaging. Even if you can predict the ending of this film, you are still so invested in what is going on thanks to how much you are with the soldiers and how much you want to see them survive. On a techincal aspect, the film might just be up there with 1917. The cinematography is stunning. Every shot is gorgeous, framed beautifully, and is just incredible to look at, the production/costume design did a phenomenal job of capturing the World War 1 setting, and the battle sequences are just perfect. All of them are brutal, intense, chaotic, and shot/edited in a way that you feel like you are on the battlefield running with the soldiers. Did I also mention how brilliant the editing and the use of sound are? The film also contains a fantastic musical score that is very minimal but is so effective whenever it is used, a stellar direction from Edward Berger, some moments of levity that don't feel forced and come in just when you need them, and an amazing screenplay that doesn't just feel like a traditional Hollywood screenplay for a war film. When it comes to the emotional aspect, All Quiet on the Western Front also succeeds brilliantly. Just like with Saving Private Ryan, Paths of Glory, and 1917, this film contains so many scenes that are just devastating to watch and leave you so emotionally heartbroken. I even got close to crying in one scene and that's a testament to not only the phenomenal acting but how brutally realistic the film is and how it doesn't hold back any punches to present to you how bleak and pointless war is. The ending is also emotionally devastating and I won't give anything away, but let's just say that it is one of the most impactful endings I've seen in a war film. Finally, there are the actors. I don't think I need to go into detail here. Everyone is just perfect. All of the actors pull off their roles with so much care, commitment, and dedication. Felix Kammerer is the main standout of the whole film and after witnessing the kind of performance that he pulled off here, this man needs to get some kind of recognition for his acting soon. Between this and all of the other stuff I've praised about this film, it makes All Quiet on the Western Front one of the best examples of a war movie. However, there is one thing that keeps it from being perfect. Maybe it's just a personal preference, but it has to be the second half of the film. It's not that it's bad because it's still very good, but it's not as engaging as the rest. For me, it just isn't as impactful as the ending of the film or even the beginning which grabs you right away thanks to some gorgeous opening shots and a fantastic first battle sequence. Again, maybe it's just me, but that was the weakest section of the film. Overall though, All Quiet on the Western Front is still one hell of a film that I won't be forgetting anytime soon. Just when you think that you've seen every great war movie, some will just come out and surprise you with how amazing they are. It's up there as one of the best and it deserves all of the praise that it has gotten. If you're a fan of war movies, then I highly recommend watching this on Netflix. It's very long and it's bound to be an insanely emotional/devastating experience, but it's an experience that everyone should have at least once. The amount of craft and effort that was put into this film should not go unnoticed. Here's hoping more people get a chance to check this one out and hopefully it will be up in the awards conversation.

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