The war genre isn’t one that I’m particularly familiar with, especially regarding classics, and I haven’t seen the original 1930 adaption of ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT. But Netflix’s 2022 adaptation is one of the most powerful movies I’ve seen in the past year. We follow Paul Bäumer, a young soldier who faces the gritty reality of war when he enlists in the German army during World War I.
The cinematography was excellent and, combined with Edward Berger’s direction, illustrated the horror and futility of trench warfare. I was familiar with the general idea but hadn’t explicitly thought about how this fighting style would’ve felt to the soldiers sent out into the field. But one of my favorite aspects of the movie was the pulsing soundtrack by Volker Bertelmann. There’s a repeated riff stuck in my head that acts as perfect aural imagery to the film. The film is also bolstered by strong performances, especially by Felix Kammerer as Paul Bäumer and Albrecht Schuch as his best friend, Kat.
If you’re looking for a movie that shows how pointless war can be, especially told from the perspective of the Germans, who, in most US media, are often portrayed on the “other” side, ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT is for you.
The movie’s positives may be outweighed by a few things I could ignore. It’s a 2.5-hour German-language war film; it’s bleak, long, and intense, and unless you are fluent in the language, requires your focus on the screen. And unfortunately, this movie is on Netflix, and I missed the theatrical release, so I was confined to the bounds of my relatively small TV.
ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT would’ve been stunning on the silver screen, but is now available to stream on Netflix.