Saturday, February 22, 2014

All Quiet On The Western Front - Movie Review

Based on a book by Erich Maria Remarque this 1930 movie (remade again in 1979) ranks No 54 on the AFI list and is about WW1. A bunch of 18 year olds in school in Germany get inspired by their school master to serve the fatherland and go to war. Soon the horrors and reality of war sinks in with death, injury, fear, survival, cowardice claiming them one by one.

Told through the eyes of young Paul Baumer, one of the eighteen year olds, it shows the disillusionment and futility of war as experienced by the young boys. 'Who started this war?' they think and come up with ideas which include how the people who have disagreements can actually get together in a room and fight and sort out their differences. makes a lot of sense really. Most of the kids die. Among the scenes that stayed with me is the one where the French soldier falls into the ditch where Paul is and Paul stabs him. the Frenchman dies slowly and Paul is filled with remorse, trying to revive him. He sees the picture of that soldier's family - young wife and little daughter. Paul gets leave, goes back home, meets his mother and sister, his old teacher and tells the new bunch of students that it was mostly about survival. He goes back to war, meets his old friend Kat and while planning their future together, loses his friend to a shrapnel. The last scene is beautiful, when he reaches out from his bunker to hold a butterfly and is picked up by a sniper shot.

The good stories have already been told. The good movies have already been made. Poignant. The film was considered anti-war and banned in Germany. But during the period when it was show before the ban, Joseph Goebells apparently used stink bombs and white mice to distract audiences. - how original.


Vinod Ekbote said...

I read the book which is a classic. The books are always better than the movies.

Harimohan said...

Vinod, that's so true. I am also amazed at how many successful movies are based on novels. If someone did a survey, it would be interesting.