In the moment, nationalism can fuel a large population into operating with blind patriotism willing to fight for a cause. If you are on the winning side, the choice will be viewed as heroic, logical and obvious. If you are on the losing side, not so much.
Edward Berger’s All Quiet on the Western Front is a stunning portrayal of the implication of nationalism playing the fear card to its people and leading them into war. In this war, 2.1 million of its soldiers and 700,000 of its civilians will experience their demise.
Edward Berger’s, All Quiet of the Western Front is a mostly faithful adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque’s novel and Hollywood’s 1930 film of the same name. The 1930 film won the Academy Award for Best Picture and Director. Berger’s film is Germany’s entry for Best Film in 2023.
Berger’s adaptation holds no punches. It is brutal in its presentation of the horrors of war. As with novel and the 1930 Hollywood, Berger’s version does not offer much if any aspect of glamor or heroism.
Berger’s film is German produced, the dialogue is in the German Language and played by [mostly] German Actors. The filming and production values of the film are superb. Therefore, it cannot help but provide a view from the losing side that feels authentic.
The five young men full of patriotism are expecting to experience the glory of war. They soon find out that the Western Front and the Great War offer no such glory. In many scenes thousands of soldiers on each side move forward and backward and into and out of trenches. As history reveals… with little to no long-term gain in territory. The Novel and two films portray the soldiers as nothing other than fodder for the opposing Army’s machine guns, mortar shells, gas cannisters, flame throwers, and tanks. Berger and Cinematographer James Friend’s presentation is immersive and addicting to the eye. It also offers no time to settle down.
There is one material deviation from the Novel and original film. Berger’s version offers a view into the Commanders of the War and the negotiation to end the conflict. The film flips between each aspect in a highly effective manner. It is interesting to see soldiers running head-on into death while others sit in luxurious settings [knowingly] sending those same men their death. With this screenplay, some of the Leaders in their knowingness also come off as detached and without care.
All Quiet on the Western Front is highly recommended.
*** Jeff’s Thoughts and Other Worthless Trivia ***