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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This movie, based on the Remarque novel, is the quintissential anti-war film. Released shortly after sound was crawling its way through the art of motion pictures, it threw the whole world on its ear. Later on in the 1930's, Adolf Hitler decreed that the film not be shown in Nazi Germany, due to its "defeatist" and "unpatriotic" view of World War I, which Hitler fought in with some level of distinction. One could say that the dictator's dislike of the film ensures that it is a great film--and it is. Lew Ayres plays a young German man who is highly influenced by a teacher who sings the praises of the German military, which desperately needs young men to fight for "the Fatherland." He finds out after extensive and grueling drilling by a haughty officer that glory in battle demands a high price. However, once in actual combat, he finds out the reality of war is so much different:it is actually undignified, uninspiring, frightening, and eventually demoralizing. For its time, the movie does a fantastic job of bringing across the horror of World War I, showing with heavy intensity the meat grinder battles in the slit trenches, the guilt that comes with killing your enemy in hand-to-hand combat, realizing he is a human being also; yet also displaying the boredom and fright of the beaten-down boys (who become men way too fast) in between battles. The end is very poignant and I will not play spoiler for those who haven't seen it, but it involves the butterfly you see on the cover of the tape/DVD. I take off points for the sorry condition of some of the scenes; occasionally, the dialogue is hard to hear and the scenes jump a bit. Still, these should not distract the viewer from taking in the message the film offers. I do not agree wholly with the message, but it presents a unique vision of war's cost in the lives of men in their prime. For the ways in which the film does this, it should remain a classic for all time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 7, 2003
I am going through a phase where I want to see every movie that the so-called Academy granted "Best Picture". This film won in 1929 and I think was the third such feauture to receive this honor. The quality of the DVD is good when you think of how old the film is. The poor quality that arrives at times adds to the history of the film and film making in general. I wouldn't watch it without it.
This is a war film that makes no claims to be anything else. It brings to life the realistc brutality, comradeship and emotional strains involved with living on the battlefield. The film makers did a tremendous job on recreating war in France while filming just outside Hollywood. The explosives are real. Turn up the volume. The non-stop bombing might just begin to brush your nerves as if you were there.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This is a much better adaptation than the later (70's?) version. I show it to my Sophomore English class.
It's interesting to cross over our discussion of the novel to the film adaptation, and discuss why the story is re-ordered in the film.
It's also interesting to compare to more current war films and discuss differences in film-making.
It is my understanding that many of the extras in this film were actual WWI soldiers helping to re-create battle scenes. I feel that many of the best battle scenes ever captured on film were done in this movie. (With very few 'special' effects!)
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on September 15, 2003
This is a more realistic view of war, instead of the War Hero type movies you may be used to watching. The reviewer below who wrote "As always, the book is better"(someone by the name of Claire) complained about the sound and the fact that it was in black and white. I don't know if Claire knows it (let alone would care) but I believe this was the 1st movie with sound throughout the entire picture and no subtitles (the original Jazz Singer came out a year before Western Front, but even though it featured Al Jolson's vocals, all dialouge was in subtitles). Not only that, the war scenes (used by a revolving crane) introduced a new form of cinematography. A Cinema professor showed it in class when discussing the beginning of the sound era in movies. Lew Aires (who was 22 during the filming of Western Front) plays Paul Baumer, a soldier during World War I on the side of Germany. As the movie begins, a teacher over-enthusiastically exhorts his students to fight for their country. So Paul enlists and leaves enthusiastically to serve in battle. However, while seeing many of his comrades die in battle and after killing an "enemy" doesn't seem to be all it's cracked up to be, Paul has a change of heart. The DVD version talks about the original book written by Erich Maria Remarque and some of what went on the set and features biographies of the cast members and director Lewis Milestone.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon January 20, 2015
This was, if memory serves, Universal's very first time they ever won Best Picture Academy Award in 1931, and quite deservedly so. Not that the other productions of that year were worst, but this tackled the war under a nice angle, with high-class acting and great cinematography to boot.

It's just a bit sad the film is lacking in the special features department, because it would have been nice to get a documentary about the making of the film, how the project came together and have a few period interviews, if any survived.

This edition is, nevertheless, VERY satisfying with a digibook full of info, a restored picture and audio, for a wonderful result. More titles should be so lucky.
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on January 27, 2004
Long before Platoon and Saving Private Ryan, a pacifist antiwar film dedicated to the soldier's point of view had them queuing round the block. An enormous critical and financial success, All Quiet On The Western Front was made in 1930 for the then enormous sum of $1.25m. The story of the inglorious fate of young German soldiers in the trenches of the Great War, it was made at a time when the actors and the public could remember the panic and the enormous numbers of dead. Thoroughly sensible and honest, this story claims to be 'neither an accusation, nor a confession, and least of all an adventure'. How many other war films have the guts to wear such a broken heart on their sleeve?
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on November 26, 2001
I remembered seeing this movie with my parents when I was a child. I always remembered Lew Ayres & the final moments of the movie - powerful, but it brought tears to my eyes. Compared to todays war movies, it is dated, but it is a must if you want to know what movies were like back in the 1930's. Lew Ayres portrays the young soldier with conviction, and you are taken back to the 1st WW and what many of our fathers/grandfathers went through. There are scratches, even on the DVD version, yet you know it's part of the 1930's so you don't mind. A great movie for anyones collection.
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This fine, early sound film has been preserved on videotape in exquisite black and white without any embellishment- it needs none. The book was probably shoved down your throat self-consciously in high school English, but here it's brought to vivid life. In this beautifully filmed version one can see the cinematographic seeds of what will become modern moviemaking. The movie is pretty powerful and intersting, but a bit long at 130 minutes. Well worth the time to watch, though.
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on April 30, 2014
I found this movie to be realistic and entertaining with the emphasis of being from the German point of view. It is a very good movie with no flaws to speak of hindering the effects of the movie. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys old movies with realistic content and little to no fake visual effects.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 23, 2003
...but for the flaws of the DVD (although I've seen much worse, and the price is fair), and the missing part ending the book (which was giving the full meaning of the title, and I found this omission unforgivable), the 'communiqué', announcing both the armistice and "All quiet on the Western Front": the death of the soldier who was at the center of the story did not have any meaning neither importance for the cannon fodder accountants (especially since the war was over). Lew Ayres, although doing a fine job as the central character, is way beyond Louis Wolheim who is perfect as the veteran who knows better, especially that the first worry for a soldier is not about glory but plain survival.
Boris Vian wrote(about 45 years ago):"War is made by people who don't know each other and fight, for the benefit of people who know each other very well but don't want to fight together"...But they give you some choice, either you die as a hero if listening to them, either as a 'coward desertor' if you refuse to comply to 'military law'; the worst (and it's very well exposed in this movie) being the one who are not fighting but know perfectly what should do those who are.I hope some day we'll see no more of military court-martialing civilians who refuse to go, but civil courts treating military as criminals.
What is most interesting is, the best 2 movies (in my opinion) depicting war as it is AND as it should be seen are this one from a book by a german writer (but an american movie), the 2nd, "Die Brucke, aka The Bridge" in 1959, having been made in Germany by a german director, Bernard Wicki; the main difference being the teacher who's trying (unsuccessfully) to calm down the young ones who want to fight for the "Vaterland": 1914 (when nothing done yet), they had to con them in; 1944 (when it was already lost), you couldn't reason them out.
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