Reviews of All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) and related work

All Quiet on the Western Front (1930Moving picture, 136 minutes)

A realistic portrayal of trench warfare from the point of view of an “enemy” soldier. Jolly school boys sign up to fight for das Vaterland in the War to End All Wars.

Apart from various technical aspects this could be modern, despite having been filmed in such early days of sound cinema. The acting is overrated, but the film as a unit is much stronger than The Big Parade (1925).

moving picture fiction

All Quiet on the Western Front (1979Moving picture, 150 minutes)

Fresh memories of Vietnam do nothing for this production. The differences are small and partly counterproductive: The jumps in time simply damage identification; Ernest Borgnine is fat playing a starving man. Some nice additions, such as the explanation of the title, diapers and Paul’s “dreamer” nature, fail to make this more worthwhile than the historically significant original. Surprisingly, there is no increase in gore: the Production Code which fell in 1967 was only just approved, not yet reinforced, in 1930, yet neither film is as gruesome as the 2022 version.

moving picture same source material fiction

“All Quiet on the Western Front”: The Story of a Film (1998Text)

Andrew Kelly (writer).

text document non-fiction

All Quiet on the Western Front (2022Moving picture, 147 minutes)

Seen in 2022.

An overwrought prestige production. The craftsmanship is thankfully excellent, apart from minor excesses of CGI enhancement. I don’t mind the inclusion of political and diplomatic processes unknown to the main characters. The problem is instead the thick dramatic irony. In the book, the death of Paul Bäumer is pointedly contextualized as typical, not newsworthy, hence the title even of this film. Here, however, Kat and Paul both die under highly ironic, atypical circumstances, whereupon a fresh recruit takes the role Paul started with in yet another case of heavy-handed symbolism.

moving picture same source material fiction