‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ film adaptation displays the reality of war

Movie depicts harrowing tale of war and bloodshed during WW1


Fair use from Netflix

Serena Bovee

Based on the book released in 1928, “All Quiet on the Western Front,” a film of the same name was recently released. The book is a political message against war that has influenced many people since its release.

“All Quiet on the Western Front” follows the story of Paul Hienrech Bäumer (Felix Kammerer), a 19 year old soldier fighting for the German side in World War One. The story follows Paul into the realm of death and torture. The deaths of his friends and enemies are shown explicitly. This movie is harrowing and shows the damage war can do to the individual foot soldier, no matter the side.

While the book and the movie have many similarities, there are a variety of differences that strengthen the movie.. One big thing that happens in the book is that Paul heads home for a short period of time. These scenes in the book, while not physically brutal, are terrifying to read as people invalidate Paul’s feelings in the war. These scenes are not shown in the movie in order to cut down time on the already two and a half hour movie. Adding these scenes would be hard for the large screen, as they are almost purely mental and emotional, not physical. They made the smart choice in leading the movie away from these scenes, as they would make the movie weaker if done poorly.

The main point of the book is that war is terrible on all sides. The soldiers are victims of the war whether they die or survive. The book and movie follows the German side of the war rather than the Allied Side. The Allies won the war, so it is viewed that the soldiers on the losing side are terrible people. It is explicitly shown through both the book and movie that all soldiers whether on the winning or losing side are just trying their best to make it out alive. The actions from both sides on the war were horrific to the other side reflecting upon the reality of World War One. The Treaty of Versailles really hurt the German people in many ways. The book and the movie sadly only lightly touch on this, but it affected the people in Germany majorly.

The movie doesn’t have the same advantages of the book in sharing its point. The movie cannot show the mental side of the war as well as the book, however it has more chances to shell shock the viewer with gore and visually showing death and pain. The movie has a large amount of death and gruesome pain. It doesn’t have a similar feeling to the book in this way, but it still makes the points in the book in a different way. 

The music used in “All Quiet On the Western Front” is almost always abrasive to the ears. The music is designed that way to show and put out the fact that war is terrifying. There is no calm music through the two and a half hour experience. Whenever something positive happens, the music is completely faded allowing the sounds of characters moving around to take the center stage. This just gives the movie an ominous feel that when music starts something bad is coming. This is only accentuated by the simple motif introduced early on. When music starts, it foreshadows that something horrifying is coming on screen in mere seconds to minutes.

This movie is scary — you don’t watch this movie to enjoy it. It is a movie to send a message made in the past. Even though the movie is difficult to watch, you should watch it. However, make sure to watch it all at once and when you are mentally prepared. The movie is only available to see on Netflix.

“All Quiet On the Western Front:” ★★★★★