All Quiet on the Western Front

All Quiet on the Western Front ★★★★

“Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation”. If there ever was a perfect application of that idea, it’s in the context of stories about war. 2022s Im Westen nichts Neues (All Quiet on the Western Front) is a remake and not even the first one, but I think that’s fine when it serves to remind us about the horrors of war and especially when done as great as it is here. Packed with gross, blood-fueled and intense scenes of terror that feels miles from any sort of cool action you could imagine, this is a visceral experience throughout all of its meaty runtime.

More than just pure trench-misery however, Edward Berger’s film allows a lot of time to all the moments in between the intensity; the sense of hopelessness and the human interaction in the darkest hours of life. Showcasing incredible contrasts between its gorgeous nature and hellish trenches, the film makes sure to capture both the landscapes and horror with the same unflinching intensity. The harrowing battles of Im Westen nichts Neues are of course very affecting, but Berger also does a great job in displaying the aftermath and effects of war.

Centering on several young men, I found it a bit difficult to fully follow through with every arc in this film, but the chaotic focus is also sort of by design in a film like this. Still, I wish Berger would’ve leaned a bit more into his ambitions in showing these young men as they enter war, with their soon-to-be-shattered dreams and ideas of their future. I could also do without the history-lesson with Daniel Brühl as sort of a background; I understand the ambitions of contrasting everything against the political macro-perspective, but it feels a bit half-baked.

Nitpicks are certainly possible here, but I found it impossible to veer off the pure visceral power of this film and its most bleak sequences will stay with me for a long time. Sure, it’s a remake after several other (probably great) versions but I can’t fault this for trying to remind us about the horrible past.

Keep screaming and let it never be forgotten.


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