For decades, war films have upheld the physical and mental horrors of war, especially the world wars. And no matter how many films are made, it will never be enough. That said, war films play an important role not just in giving the audience a stroll down history lane and what all humanity has had to go through and endure to reach where it has today, but also in terms of filmography as a visual medium. While films like “Dunkirk,” “1917”, “Saving Private Ryan,” and “Pearl Harbor” show the large scale of the wars, films like “Schindler’s List,” “Imitation Game,” “Fury,” “Darkest Hour,” and “Bridge of Spies” show the wars on a more personal level. Both of these kinds are equally necessary and needed. And Netflix’s upcoming anti-war film ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ falls among the former. (An anti-war film is a war film that criticizes wars and their futility.)
Based on German World War I veteran Erich Maria Remarque’s 1928 novel “Im Westen Nichts Neues,” “All Quiet on the Western Front” speaks of the mental and physical stress that the German soldiers went through during World War I, especially on the Western Front, which was one of the main battlefields of the war. The novel was found to be anti-German and was banned in Germany. Copies of the novel were burned in front of the public to show censorship. It was a symbol that things that offended the regime, especially on political grounds, would be banned. Today, the phrase “All quiet on the Western Front” has become an expression of a lack of change or stagnation. The main character is Paul Bäumer, who joins the army after listening to his teacher’s nationalist speeches. At the Western Front, he meets Stanislaus Katczinsky, who becomes his mentor. He is also joined by his friends Albert Kropp and Tjaden Stackfleet. The film will also have Matthias Erzberger, who was a German writer and politician, as well as the minister of Finance for Germany.
The epigraph of the novel reads: “This book is to be 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 the story of a generation of men who, even though they may have escaped shells, were destroyed by the war. “It is a clear echo of Wilfred Owen’s famous poems “Anthem for Doomed Youth” and “Dulce et Decorum est,” which also condemned the war (World War I) and spoke of its horrors. The trailer, too, begins with the first line of the above-mentioned quote. It establishes the nature of the film much like it did the novel. There won’t be any romantic elements that will usher in sentiments on the part of the audience. All that we can expect is the stark, harsh attitude of the war without any remorse. The dire circumstances, the explosions, the pain, the fear, the deaths, the dictatorship, the friendship, and last but not least, no man’s land.
From the looks of the trailer, it will carry the same mood as “1917” (2019) and “Dunkirk” (2017). As much as the characters, the war itself will play a role in taking the story forward. Every environment that the characters are in will add to their arcs. What makes the world war so captivating is the sheer organic nature of the men, the weapons, and the world of the time. From the “All Quiet on the Western Front” trailer, it seems that the film will use this as a motif as well. When there are fewer ways out, the stakes are higher. And “All Quiet on the Western Front” will put them up front for us to see, but this time from a German POV.
Directed by Edward Berger, Netflix’s “All Quiet on the Western Front” releases on October 28. The cast includes Daniel Brühl as Matthias Erzberger, Albrecht Schuch as Stanislaus Katczinsky, Felix Kammerer as Paul Bäumer, Aaron Hilmer as Albert Kropp and Edin Hasanovic as Tjaden Stackfleet.