Director: Lewis Milestone
Starring: Louis Wohlheim, Lew Ayres, John Wray, Arnold Lucy, Ben Alexander
Genre: Drama, War
“This story is neither an accusation nor a confession, and least of all an adventure, for death is not an adventure to those who stand face to face with it. It will try simply to tell of a generation of men who, even though they may have escaped its shells, were destroyed by the war…”
This is probably one of the greatest and emotional title card that ever was.
An adaption of Eric Maria Remarque’s unforgettable novel, in which a generation of idealistic young Germans are inspired to join the army and fight for their country, the main reason being patriotism. Paul Baumer is the student leader of a bunch of German schoolboys in 1914 who listen to the voice of their schoolmaster, who says that the new generation must defend their homeland and he tries to convince as many boys as he can. Eventually, he succeeded, and now, some teenagers think the war is already won, but they have no idea what troubles and misfortunes are waiting for them.
This movie, although it was made in 1930, has a subject present nowadays: why are soldiers fighting and dying meaningless? There is even a scene in the film, where the soldiers discuss: “How do they start a war?” They haven’t seen an English before, but they must kill him, and vice versa. After that, Kat, who is a very important character in my opinion, says that “whenever a big is coming up, we should rope off a big field, and on the big day, you should take all the kings and their cabinets, and their generals, put them in the center and let them fight it out with clubs. The best country wins” From my point of view, what Kat says is valid even today, this quote is one of my favorites.
Another memorable scene is the one, where Paul Baumer stabs a French soldier and stays with him for 2 days. In this time he prays for him, apologizes to him and promises that he’ll take care of his family; it is one of the most emotional moments, Paul being affected all his life.
“All Quiet on the Western Front” won 2 Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director (Lewis Milestone) and is the seventh-best American epic film, one of the best war films and “an essential piece of social history and a heart-wrenching film”. A film that you have to see at least once in your lifetime.