Quick recap: ‘I can’t tell you anything you don’t know. We live in the trenches out there, we fight, we try not to be killed; and sometimes we are. That’s all.’- Paul Bäumer
Fun (?) fact: Raymond Griffith, who played the dying soldier Gerard Duval, was a prolific silent film star. Having lost his voice as a child, Griffith’s career on screen was effectively over after All Quiet on the Western Front. It was really hard to find a trivia fact more depressing than this movie but I think I did it!
My thoughts: War movies are on a whole rather depressing. I’ve seen quite a few lately and I suppose it’s only fitting that I end my streak on the most depressing. Rome,Open City and The Ascent are more sad but for a soldier’s perspective, nothing compares to this.
So basically, everyone dies. I don’t think it’s much of a spoiler because A)the movie is over 80 years old and B) it’s an anti-war film so what better way to prove your point than by killing every one? I spent too much time trying to figure out who everyone was at the beginning of the film but after they started dying off, I realized that it didn’t matter and that it was probably best not to become too attached. The death scenes themselves were a little dramatic but once again, this movie isn’t trying to enlist anyone so might as well add all the flair you want. The battles are spectacular, though. I couldn’t keep up with what was going on which I guess was pretty realistic. It amazes me to no end that this movie was made in 1930. Many parts look far more sophisticated than what Hollywood was producing at that time. The acting too was impressive, especially considering that ‘talkies’ were still a relatively new thing.
The plot itself wasn’t hard to follow because once again, the entire movie is just watching people die. I’m in no way for censorship, but I can see the reasoning behind so many countries banning this movie. The point is said several times that dying is more important than your country which I’m not here to discuss but it seems a radical idea for the time and actually still a radical idea. It goes without saying, really, that Germany was not a fan of this movie and didn’t allow it to be shown at all until the 50s.
Final review: 4/5. I’m ready for a different topic now.
Up next: Red River