All Quiet on Western Front (1930)
Contains restored footage
|Unlike most "message" films that date themselves almost immediately, Lewis Milestone's low-key unpolished and deeply-felt screen adaptation of the Erich Maria Remarque anti-war novel has lost little of its original impact. Years after its release it was still being banned in countries mobilizing for war. The plot follows a group of young German recruits in World War I throughout their passage from idealism to disillusionment. As the central character Paul Baumer (Ayres) declares, "We live in the trenches and we fight. We try not to be killed - that's all." All Quiet is an anthology of now famous scenes: Ayres trapped in a shell crater with a man he has killed; the first meeting of the recruits and the veterans; infantrymen being mowed down to machine-gun visual rhythms; a moonlight swim with the French farm girls; Ayres' pacifist speech to his astonished schoolmates; and the final shot of the soldier's hand reaching for a butterfly|
Editor's NoteLewis Milestone's adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque's anti-war novel is a masterpiece whose power to disturb remains undiminished by the passage of time. The film stars Lew Ayres as the young Paul Bauman, who, along with a group of his teenaged classmates, are conscripted into the German army during WWI. The youths quickly realize that the patriotic hogwash they had been fed by their schoolmaster has absolutely has nothing to do with the horror they observe and experience on the front lines.
Cast & Crew
|Erich Maria Remarque - Based on Novel By|
|Lewis Milestone - Director|
|Arthur Edeson - Director of Photography|
|Carl Laemmle, Jr. - Producer|
|George Abbott - Screenplay|
Plot SummaryStill widely regarded as the best war film ever made, director Lewis Milestone's adaptation of the Remarque WWI novel is clearly his masterpiece, a searing indictment of the insanity of war. Starring Lew Ayres as the young Paul Bauman, the film focuses on the fates of the boy and his classmates, who have enlisted to fight in the German army during WWI. Still on fire with the patriotism instilled by their teacher, Kantorek (Arnold Lucy), they arrive for training, eager to face death. When they reach the front lines, the realize that the German troops have few supplies and no food. Sgt. Katczinsky (Louis Wolheim), briefs the recruits on how to avoid getting killed, but on the first night, one of them gets shot. The carnage of the battle shocks the boys, and some are driven mad. Day after day, the recruits huddle in the trenches, frightened, starving, and unable to gain ground, realizing that it is not glorious to die for one's fatherland. This powerfully affecting film is brilliantly directed and written, and generally well acted despite some dated elements. Milestone's magnificent crane and tracking shots of the battlefields surely owe something to the work of Karl Freund, arguably the finest cinematographer in film history.
|Lewis Milestone, Winner, Best Director|
|Carl Laemmle, Jr., Winner, Best Picture|
|Arthur Edeson, Nominee, Best Cinematography|
|George Abbott, et al., Nominee, Best Writing, Achievement|