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Tricia's retro film review: All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)

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All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)

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All Quiet on the Western Front is the 1930 war film based on the book. Paul Baumer signs up for the German Army after his teacher encourages them to fight for the fatherland. However, after training, Paul’s image of a glorious war is brutally destroyed. Not only do they have to deal with the violence of war, they sometimes find it hard to find food and the need to deal with injuries. When Paul goes home for a visit, the civilians are not as understanding. Can Paul survive the war or will he become one more causality?

This is a pretty good example of an adaptation that expands on the book. Several scenes were made up for the movie, like the teacher’s propagandic speech and the men’s attempts at flirting while they swim. But not only are these scenes really good, they easily could fit in the book as well. The movie seems to show a wider variety of emotions as well. The tone of the book is mostly somber and any happy emotions feel suppressed. However, the movie is still able to show how war is horrible precisely by contrasting happy moments with sad ones. The director does a good job of showing the ugly violence. There’s even a blink or you’ll miss it scene of a man getting blown up while going through barbed wire and the scene showing the hands still clutching it. This would have been rather shocking for 1930. The movie also shows how Paul died. In the book, it just says that he died without explaining how. The film decides that he died while reaching out for a butterfly, leaving himself open. Some viewers might find the death scene too artistically stylized though. Some scenes are switched around from the book’s order without ruining the movie. Honolulu war film fans should buy this movie.

More at: Tricia’s Retro Film Reviews

Buy All Quiet on the Western Front at Amazon.com

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