All quiet on the western front was a brutal masterpiece that left me speechless


A tranquil European forest shown in a magnificent fashion isn’t the venue many would find to open up a war movie. But All quiet on the western front managed to make an impact as the proceeding shots became more and more barren and war-torn. Eventually, we are on the western front line itself, following a young soldier through the chaotic and bloody fields of no man’s land.

The opening itself was enough to instantly grab my attention. I knew that I was in for a brutal treat after that. And as it so happens the rest of the movie did not disappoint, with gripping and brutal imagery as well as acting.

the movie did not disappoint, with gripping and brutal imagery and acting.

Unlike some, I have not seen the original rendition of All Quiet on the western front, which was released back in 1930. But the trailer for the new remake done by Netflix got me interested, and I couldn’t wait to watch it. 

The movie follows a German soldier Paul Bäumer, a young and high-spirited German boy who signs up for the military to help them fight in the first world war. Young men like him are filled with excitement as German veterans give them speeches about what glories and victories they will achieve. The story gives the audience a false sense of security as the soldiers are all singing and eager to be on the battlefield before it plunges us into an artillery barrage.

The movie is a back-and-forth ping-pong match that bounces from the unequipped and poor life of soldiers fighting a war to the lavish and secure lives of the diplomats trying to end it. It’s a strong parallel that makes the audience despise most of the men with power as they feast and debate from the safety of their quarters and makes the audience connect more with the soldiers risking their lives. 

Since it was made by a German company, all the dialogue is decidedly German. It helps add to the atmosphere and gets the audience into the location. All the performances were very good, but Paul stood out with emotion and innocence. Even the supporting cast gave believable performances with a bit of emotion themselves. 

My favorite part of the entire movie is that it takes its time. There are quite long periods without any action or death. There are just moments of bonding between Paul and his friends, which helps the audience care for the characters. However, it makes it even more impactful when some of them do not get to go home. 

The brutality and violence are what you’d expect from an R-rated war movie, with plenty of gore and moments of sudden violence. Some scenes stuck out when the fighting got up close and very personal, but it wasn’t on an unwatchable level by any means.

The film is undoubtedly amazing with only a few drawbacks. While not a serious problem, the CGI is sometimes janky with certain moments obviously being computer generated. This takes the audience out of the moment by distracting them. Another thing is that the score may—at some points—feel weird and out of place for a movie set in 1918. But those are only minor things that bother me and if a filmmaker can make a movie with only a few bad moments, I would consider that movie a success on the filmmaker’s behalf. 

From a storytelling perspective, the movie was very powerful and heartbreaking. I’m not going to spoil any major plot details, but best believe that the ending will most likely have you feeling sad. The only message the story tries to tell is that the war was mostly pointless and violent. Soldiers often died for inches of land, and when they gained ground they were instantly swarmed by bullets and artillery strikes.   

Unlike most war movies there are no heroes in All quiet on the western front, there are only soldiers all fighting for the cause they believe is right. However, there are still perceivable villains in the form of greedy generals who put their pride and honor before the lives of their soldiers.

 I would highly recommend it to those who are okay with its violent content. Because the movie is definitely one of the most heartbreaking and intense movies I’ve seen all year. And in the end, it all came together in an intense and excruciatingly saddening climax that left me at a loss for words.