- ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT
- Starring: Felix Kammerer, Daniel Bruhl
- Directed by: Edward Berger
- Rating: R
- Running Time: 2 hrs 28 mins
- Amusement Park
Nominated for nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best International Feature, “All Quiet on the Western Front” is a cinematic masterpiece and one of the few truly stand-out films of 2022. A superb script, terrific acting by the entire cast and flawless direction makes this film a must-see before your March 12th Oscar watch party.
“All Quiet on the Western Front” is based upon the 1929 novel of the same name by German-born novelist Erich Maria Remarque (1898-1970), whose inspiration came from his experiences as a soldier in the Imperial German Army during World War I. It was first adapted to the silver screen in 1930 and has been routinely regarded as a cinematic classic and was the first film to win an Oscar for both Best Picture and Best Director. The 2022 version had some big shoes to fill, and it does not disappoint.
When 17-year-old Paul Bäumer (Felix Kammerer) enlists in the Imperial German Army in 1917, he and three of his friends share a romantic view of war. Brimming with patriotic zeal fueled by a school official, they are excited to experience the glory of combat in the defense of Germany. Soon after their deployment to the western front in northern France, the quartet discover just how terrible the realities of war are.
As time passes, Paul loses an increasing number of comrades as the German High Command tries to press forward with one bloody, pointless assault after another. By November 1918, Paul and all of Germany had become war weary to the point of exhaustion. It is what spurs German official Matthias Erzberger (Daniel Bruhl) to persuade the German military to pursue armistice talks with the Allied powers. Germany’s surrender means an end to the carnage, but one German general refuses to accept defeat and orders one last meaningless charge before the deadline that results in even more tragedy.
Like its 1929 predecessor, “All Quiet on the Western Front” does everything it can to demonstrate how horrific war is, which unfortunately is being played out daily on the battlefields of Ukraine. The film is darkly sobering, punctuated by battle sequences that are as close to real as cinema can make them. German-born director Edward Berger has created nothing less than a classic. Kammerer is nothing short of mesmerizing as he deftly portrays a young man who becomes a bruise and battered old soul within a short amount of time. It’s certainly an Oscar caliber performance even if he wasn’t nominated.
Overall, “All Quiet on the Western Front” should be a part of any cinephile’s movie collection.