All Quiet on the Western Front

All Quiet on the Western Front

To be able to tell All Quiet on the Western Front from our perspective?” said director Edward Berger in a recent interview. “There was no going back for me.”

Making the first German adaptation of the canonical German novel All Quiet on the Western Front by Enrich Maria Remarque is an ambitious gamble that pays huge dividends for Berger. First published in 1928, All Quiet on the Western Front quickly became both a literary and cinematic anti-war classic. Hollywood came calling with Lewis Milestone’s 1930 adaptation of the novel. Bold, brutal, and told with truly epic scope for the time, the film endures as one of the best of the era. It won Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Director, but the book had already been banned and burned in its homeland when the envelopes were opened.

92 years later, All Quiet on the Western Front returns to the battlefields in its native tongue. The film is, boldly, Germany’s submission in the Oscar race for Best International Feature. One suspects it’s an early frontrunner. It’s better than Milestone’s version of the film, which still holds up. This story doesn’t get old. In fact, it stings with its brutal immediacy as the world fails to learn from the horrors of history. As Russia wages a futile attack on Ukraine in 2022, the tragic tale of Germany doggedly sticking to its guns in the face of obvious failure is strikingly disheartening. Moreover, film production has simply evolved considerably since the Milestone version. Berger’s take affords All Quiet on the Western Front the scope, scale, and brutality unlike anything yet.

Read Pat Mullen's full review:

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