Berger’s film is beautifully shot and paced, delivering sharp, evocative World War I images. While we’ve had some really impressive features on the subject in recent years, including Steven Spielberg’s “War Horse” (2011) and Sam Mendes’ one-shot “1917” (2019) , “All Quiet on the Western Front” feels revolutionary. This may be partly due to the fact that we have a German view of events; it feels like most Hollywood war blockbusters (“Saving Private Ryan”, “The Thing Red Line”, “Dunkirk”, etc.) are set during the Second World War and treat Americans and Bronzes proved to be heroes against Nazi Germany and the Axis powers. “All Quiet on the Western Front” returns to that first world conflict, and faithfully presents the circumstances that made German youth want to fight the war and its dire consequences.
However, I think a bigger factor is Berger’s sharp eye for dramatizing events – both the epic, large-scale battle scenes and also the quiet, private moments in between. . “All Quiet on the Western Front” really captivated the audience In act. The story centers on a soldier, Paul Bäumer (Felix Kammerer), who lies about his age to excitedly enlist with his friends. These young men – boys, in fact – were genuinely happy to go to war, joking and singing along the way to training. This generation has been brainwashed by propaganda and authority figures to see the front lines as an opportunity for glory and excitement – they are fighting for their country, but also looking for adventure. But we, the audience, knew better.
Instead of starting the film with Paul, Berger opens with an montage that shows the endless cycle of death leading up to Paul’s entry into the fray. In those opening scenes, the unimaginable number of young men was slaughtered on the battlefield. Their bodies were mass recovered, and workers diligently recovered salvageable equipment. Then it was an industrial assembly line that washed, repaired, and repackaged uniforms for the next generation of eager young recruits. It’s the kind of industrial meat grinder-like view of war that Roger Waters sings in “The Wall,” and it’s a view that’s not often included in these films. When Paul received his uniform, he noted that it already had a nameplate on it. He said it was returned because it was “too small” and this happens all the time. We know the truth is much darker: Someone died in that coat.
https://www.slashfilm.com/1006030/all-quiet-on-the-western-front-review-a-bleak-beautiful-anti-war-film-tiff/ An anti-war, beautiful, gloomy film [TIFF]