Film Review: All Quiet on the Western Front

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All Quiet on the Western Front is a 1979 TV movie adaptation by director Delbert Mann, of the 1930 originally. The movie spans 150 minutes, and stars Richard Thomas as Paul Baumer, a young man who makes the decision to enlist in the German army and fight during the First World War after being persuaded to do so by his fervently patriotic teacher Kantorek. In this depiction of WW1 from the view point of a group of young men fighting for the German front, Paul is joined in his efforts by several of his fellow classmates who have similarly joined the cause through the efforts of Kantorek. After being put through training camp under the harsh command of Corporal Himmelstoss, the group of friends is shipped out to the front lines. It is there that they see firsthand the tragic and often bloody effects of war. The film as a whole is told from the point of view of the Germans, which in my personal opinion takes away the romanticism that other films depicting this time period tended to include, and gave the movie more appeal because of what I felt was a more realistic, and less biased depiction. In All Quiet on the Western, we are given perspective from that of young German soldiers, and in providing the audience with this perspective, the Germans are humanized. This films message emphasizes the harsh reality of war, the fact that it took a toll on the ‘enemy’ as well, how pointless WW1 really was, and how preventable it could have been. After being persuaded to enlist in the army by their impassioned teacher Kantorek, Paul and his fellow classmates are quickly sent off to basic training. While there, they are under the command of the sadistic Himmelstoss. He is charged with training the young men, and does that but has an unfortunate penchant for harshly punishing anyone for even the smallest mistake. When their training is completed, the men are sent to the front lines, where they are put under the charge of Stanislaus Katczinsky. Katczinsky proves to be a much fairer...
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