The Iron Youth of Germany

All Quiet on the Western Front

Director: Edward Berger

Cast: Felix Kammerer, Albrecht Schuch, Daniel Bruhl, Devid Striesow, Edin Hasanovic, Michael Witterborn, Sebastian Hulk, Anton von Lucke, Aaron Hilmer

Running time: 2 hours and 28 minutes

Film Rating: 8 out of 10

This film is only available on Netflix

Every year on the 11th November at 11h00, England and some European countries mark Armistice Day which is when World War 1 ended but the significance of such an hour on such a day is clearly and brutally illustrated in director Edward Berger’s brilliant German anti-war film All Quiet on the Western Front, a 2022 remake of the 1930 film which won a Best Picture Oscar then.

This film is based on the famous German novel of the same name written by German soldier and World War I survivor Erich Maria Remarque published in 1929. The 2022 version has been nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film.

If viewers love a really brilliant war film, then All Quiet on the Western Front is highly recommended viewing, an epic film masterfully directed by Edward Berger and featuring an entirely German and Austrian cast including Felix Kammerer as the main character Paul Baumer, a young and idealistic German teenager who like his compatriots at school get pulled into the blind patriotism of German war fever as the German army is battling the French in the incredibly brutal trench warfare on the Western Front, the border between Germany and France. For complete authenticity watch this film in German with English subtitles.

To counterpoint all the violence, horror and utter bloodshed, the narrative also focuses on the diplomatic mission led by Germany to sue for peace with the French, a task given to diplomat Matthias Erzberger wonderfully played by Golden Globe nominee Daniel Bruhl (Rush). The more famous Daniel Bruhl (Inglourious Basterds, 7 Days in Entebbe, Woman in Gold) also served as executive producer of All Quiet on the Western Front and was instrumental on getting this 21st century version of the film made and premiered at the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival in September 2022.

As the hours approach for the ceasefire, a bloodthirsty general is determined to continue fighting the French right up until the last minute before the armistice takes effect, much to the detriment of the 78th Infantry Reserve Regiment in which Paul Baumer is part of along with his fellow soldiers Kat played by Albrecht Schuch, Kropp played by Aaron Hilmer and Tjaden played by Bosnian actor Edin Hasanovic. Collectively they represent the Iron Youth of Germany.

All Quiet on the Western Front, like similar war films including Sam Mendes’s brilliant 1917 and Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan is a gritty, stark and bloody war film about the meaninglessness of trench warfare and the unnecessary deaths of over 3 million people, many of them young men.

Beautifully shot and extremely captivating, All Quiet on The Western Front gets a film rating of 8 out of 10 and is highly recommended viewing. It’s a fascinating anti-war film about the brutalities of close combat.

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