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 and pleasant leader then Himmelstoss. It is by him that the boys are taught what is most important in the war and how to achieve it: staying alive.
With an increasing number of encounters with the enemy, comes an increasing amount of casualties. After losing many of his friends throughout the efforts of war, and being injured himself, Paul returns home. But when there, finds himself uncomfortable with his old life, and readily returns to the front lines. Although I enjoyed the general premise of the plot, which in my knowledge seemed fairly realistic, there were several scenes and developments in the plot that I felt dragged on too long.
One of which was when the boys were sent off to training camp, I felt that much of their time there that was shown was just them learning the same basic things over and over again, and this seemed to take up a reasonable amount of time without any real plot development. Overall, Paul’s transition from an innocent to a weary man knowledgeable in the ways of war is good as pot overall, but there were certain developments that tended to drag on pointlessly and had somewhat of a dulling effect on the movie.
I have very limited knowledge on what a person who experienced, or had been in the process of experiencing WW1 should have been like, therefore my opinion on the following is just that of my personal opinion. I’m not sure if this really pertains to the actors and the portrayal of their character, but the majority of the characters in the film seemed to be very muted in their expression of opinion and emotions except for that of the character of Himmelstoss, who came off as more of a caricature.
Although Richard Thomas does a decent enough job at giving his character some depth in his portrayal, such as the scene when Paul is left with only the company of a French soldier who is half alive because of previously being stabbed by Paul, this seems to serve as the only real look that we get at his inner turmoil. The direction in which the director has taken also seems somewhat stinted and drawn out. The issues pertaining to the war are addressed, but when being addressed are either paid extreme attention, or none at all.
An example of the latter would be when Paul’s fellow soldier joins him in the hospital after having had his leg amputated. The film focuses on this plot development for such a drawn out amount, that the significance of it is somewhat lost. In contrast, there is a scene where Paul is witness to a fellow soldier suffering from the effects of mustard gas, and he seems like he is hardly affected by this brief occurrence, which is never mentioned again. From what I can tell the script was well written in accordance to the situation, and the narrations by Paul served to further the story rather then hinder it.
Although at times the dialogue seemed somewhat lacking, I feel that during such situations dialogue would realistically be lacking. Considering that All Quiet on the Western front is a made for TV movie from the late 70’s, I can’t really get to into it’s technical quality. There were a few things though that I thought could have been improved in that area. One of which was the overall editing of the film. As I have said before, there were some seems that didn’t serve to further the movie at all, and some that were extended to a point of boredom.
An example of such an instance were many of the battle scenes, which just seemed to drag on. The battle scenes also exhibited another flaw in the technical aspect of the movie, which was the exclusion of actual blood from the battle scenes. The lack of blood when it came to the battle scenes gave the film more of a contrived feel. The view that was afforded during the battle scenes was not the best either, the camera having a tendency to shy away when anything too gruesome, such as a bomb going off would occur.
In this respect though it did allow the quality of sound affects to prevail, providing our imagination with at least some sense of the battlefield. As film overall, the film paints a picture and concludes in a way that stresses and conveys the director and writer’s point: The needless innocence was lost in a war that could have very well been avoided. Although the scenes tend to drag on in certain points, everything of importance is included in the film, which is better then leaving too many things out.
The character in the film effectively play the role of the soldier, but can be lacking in certain parts, which leaves me confused as to if this is purposeful or not. The film could have shown more of the gory effects of war to really convey the severity of it to the audience, and could have delved deeper into it’s effects on the characters rather then pointlessly dragging on. But overall these things do not discourage the film from conveying it’s overall point, and the generally plot is one that is fresh and surprisingly enlightening.
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Film Review: All Quiet on the Western Front. (2018, Sep 07). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/film-review-all-quiet-on-the-western-front-essay