Friday, July 20, 2012

All Quiet on the Western Front

A group of classmates are roused by an impassioned speech by their teacher about the glories of the fatherland, and set off to fight for their beloved Germany before discovering the true horrors of war. "All Quiet on the Western Front" is an unrelenting and wide ranging antiwar masterpiece that depicts not only the atrocities of battle, but also the rigors, the starvation, and even the boredom that accompanied a band of German soldiers during World War I. Lewis Milestone does a remarkable and even innovative job translating Erich Maria Remarque's novel, and never once even dreams of softening his antiwar message. Lew Ayres, whom much of the story centers around, is strongly affecting especially in the tragically poignant closing scenes. "AQOTWF" is probably the most effective antiwar film ever made because it eliminates all the elements that may glamorize battle, and depicts the all encompassing ugliness and agony that is war.