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500 Five-Star: All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)

August 25, 2011

 

I’ve read and written millions of words of both World Wars, and as a result you would think I would have become a little desensitised to tales of warfare and suffering.  However, this isn’t the case.  If anything, I tend to be even more moved by war stories now than I was ten years ago.  My viewing of All Quiet on the Western Front proves this point.  For two hours, I was engrossed and massively emotionally invested in the story of a group of teenage German soldiers sent to the front line (the fact that the soldiers were German, despite this being an American-made film, is an excellent way of ensuring that the film is never seen to take sides between the opposing armies; the driving force behind the movie is instead a strong anti-war rhetoric).  From the opening scenes, in which the teenagers are convinced by their teacher to fight for the glory of Germany, you can’t help but feel a profound sadness in realisation of the characters’ likely fates.  The trench warfare is incredibly realistic, with the sound design in particular driving home the terror of the WW1 front lines, and while the acting and writing are (to put it mildly) very hammy, this is easily forgiven given the message the film is attempting to get across.

Verdict:

A hugely memorable war epic, and one of the most realistic depictions of World War 1 that I have ever seen on film.

*****

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