on German writer Eric Maria Remarque's novel, ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN
FRONT is an anti-war film that follows a group of soldiers from their
recruitment through to the waning days of the First World War. The
story is told from the point of view of the eventually defeated
Germans, rather than the triumphant English or Americans, making it a
film not about "us against them" but rather the sadness and madness of
Director Lewis Milestone conquered the technical problems of sound by filming much of the battle footage silent and dubbing in sound effects in post-production, so that the film has the fluid beauty of the best silent films while also exploiting the strengths that sound and dialogue can bring to such a film. The battle scenes themselves, although sometimes using a jarring mix of footage shot at silent and sound speeds, rank among the greatest montage sequences of the early days of the talkies. The acting may sometime veer into that stagy, wooden style often seen in the transitional years of 1927 - 1930, and the dialogue may occasionally be overwritten and overplayed, but there are so many memorable scenes and images, right up to the final moments of the film, that such issues are easily dismissed.
Because it was one of the first and most influential sound films covering the miseries of war, some of its power has been diminished over the years as scores of other war films have covered the same ground. But ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT still remains a masterpiece of the early sound era. ½ - JB
IS THAT WHO I
THINK IT IS?: Sharp-eyed
silent movie fans may notice that is it silent comic Raymond Griffith
playing the dying French soldier in the trench with Lew Ayres.
The Road Home (1937)
All Quiet on the Western Front (1979 - TV)