All Quiet on the Western Front

All Quiet on the Western Front ★★★½

Adapted from the 1929 novel of Erich Maria Remarque, Edward Berger’s All Quiet on the Western Front is a relentless, volatile film adaptation that distills the essence of Remarque’s text: war is futile. It’s worth noting that this is the second film adaptation of the same novel, after 1930 version with Lewis Milestone directing (an American film production)—which I have not seen yet. This time however, the film is all mounted by full German production which makes it more distinctive to their own.

The story follows a group of bright-eyed young soldiers who gets recruited to fight during WWI only to discover and experience the profound traumatic devastation of war. That’s really much about everything in this story, however Berger puts on a directorial flair in regenerating contemporary feel and energy to a period war drama. The set pieces and blocking are amazing. And it’s gorgeously shot, thanks to cinematography by James Friend which stands as one of the year’s best.

The only complaint I have is that it’s too long for a war movie that have already said what it wants to say during the first 30 minutes of the film. There’s nothing else that happened other than the war and the psychological dissociation that these men which is very troubling and painful. But above that, it’s still a good film with great ensemble performances to spare. Sturdy and efficiently-told.

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