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Photo: ‘All Quiet On The Western Front’
Netflix’s newest original film, ‘All Quiet On The Western Front’, is an adaptation of the anti-war novel of the same name, written by Erich Maria Remarque. The novel has previously been adapted into two other feature films, one released in 1930 that garnered attention from the Academy Awards and the other a television film released in 1979. This version is a German adaptation, directed by Edward Berger who also co-wrote the script. Since its debut at the renowned Toronto International Film Festival, the film has wrought nothing but praise for everything ranging from its gripping war scenes, to its acting, to its overall production quality.
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After viewing the film, it’s easy to see why it is getting the recognition it deserves. It is nothing short of riveting to watch. Of the three film adaptations of this particular novel, this may very well be the best one to date. That may be a bit unfair due to the production technology we have today compared to when the other two films were released. But regardless, the film is brilliantly directed, astonishingly acted, and an overall unapologetically brutal look at the intimate and personal consequences of war.
Using Every Branch Of Filmmaking To Convey The Same Message
In this film, all aspects of filmmaking work in conjunction with each other to convey the same message: war is hell. The story follows a young enlistee by the name of Paul Baumer, played excellently by Felix Kammerer. From the very moment he gets his uniform, we know exactly what he signs up for and the goosebumps only grow more often throughout the rest of the film. We see what happens to his uniform prior to his receiving, how it was taken from another dead soldier, only to be rinsed and handed off to him. Human lives are simply pawns in the process of war, treated like animals sent to be slaughtered only for the cage to be rinsed for the next occupant. Throughout most of the events in the film, it is easy to place ourselves in this situation and imagine the almost unimaginable and unbearable feeling of being down in the trenches. Again, the acting is not only stellar but is also used to convey the sense of fear and hopelessness that these soldiers feel, accepting the fact that they could die or be seriously wounded at any given second. Daniel Bruhl, who plays a character named Matthias Erzberger working as a delegate with French officials to end the war, is also fantastic with the little screen time he’s given.
It is the small details that amplify this war message as well. One area that was much more effective than it was probably expected to be was the makeup work. In one scene, after crawling on the muddy battlefield for an extended period of time, the mud on his face began to dry and crackle, as if he had just applied dried cement. Just the thought of what that must feel like and how painful it would have been to have it all removed was very unnerving.
Steven Spielberg’s ‘Saving Private Ryan’ and Mel Gibson’s ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ are obviously prime examples of war films with some of the most intricate sound mixing and editing ever heard on screen. This film definitely belongs in the same ballpark as those films. The sounds of bullets bouncing off his helmets, boots being pulled out of the mud, and wounds gushing with blood all paint a vivid picture of how grim and costly war really is.
A Story That Is Hard Not To Place Yourself In
As mentioned earlier, when watching this film, you can’t help but think how you would feel or what you would do if you were a soldier in this war. The anxiety tied to wondering whether or not this war will end anytime soon and what you would think if it didn’t. The horror and heartbreak you would endure watching your brothers die such gruesome deaths. The feeling, during a battle, when everything around you is moving at a thousand miles per hour and if you can’t keep up with it, you’ll likely lose a limb or even your life. All of these thoughts and feelings arise time and time again throughout this two-and-a-half-hour film.
As powerful and riveting as this film is, there may have been some ways in which it could have been even more moving. For instance, while we got to spend some time with Paul and his friends off of the battlefield and we did care relatively enough about their friendship and group dynamic, we probably would have been even more invested if we had gotten to spend a bit more time with them in the beginning and had seen their friendship on display further. We also could have maybe seen some of the real effects and ramifications on some of the living soldiers, families of those killed as well as of those surviving, and maybe even on the countries involved. But these aren’t nitpicking as much as they are suggestions for packing an even stronger emotional punch.
‘All Quiet On The Western Front’ – A War Movie For The Ages
It was pretty clear from the get-go what the message of this film was and given how effectively it got that message across to the audience, it’s safe to say that this film thoroughly accomplished its goal and succeeded in the realm of storytelling.
Directed by: Edward Berger
By Nader Chamas
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Nader Chamas is an aspiring television writer who seeks to fuse thought provoking progressive ideals into the films, shows, and stories that he loves. Having graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a degree in Screenwriting, Nader seeks to use his writing to advance causes that do not get enough attention or input across mainstream media. Like most, Nader has his own share of his favorite franchises and stories across pop culture. However, he seeks to contribute timely and relevant topics into these stories as well as in his own original material. This is why Nader’s analysis of popular films and tv shows matches The Hollywood Insider’s practice of discussing entertainment from a socially cognizant and critical perspective.