Ninety years after its original release, Netflix has produced a new German-language version of the classic war movie All Quiet On The Western Front.
The 1930 version of the anti-war film was based on the novel by German author Erich Maria Remarque. It won Best Picture and a Best Director Oscar and is widely regarded as one of the best war movies ever made.
In 1991, the film was selected and preserved by the United States Library of Congress' National Film Registry as being deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
The 1930s version often makes it into the top ten lists of best movies of all time. Director Steven Spielberg calls the film ‘Inspirational'. The fact that Netflix has taken on the retelling of this story is a massive undertaking with high expectations and responsibilities.
What Is All Quiet on the Western Front About?
Like the 1930s film, the Netflix version is based on the novel by Erich Maria Remarque, a German veteran of World War I.
At the beginning of the book, Remarque writes, “This book is to be neither an accusation nor a confession, and least of all an adventure, for death is not an adventure to those who stand face to face with it. It will try simply to tell of a generation of men who, even though they may have escaped (its) shells, were destroyed by the war.”
The anti-war message conveyed by the book was so powerful that the Nazi regime banned it. They also disrupted the 1930 film adaptation screenings of the movie.
The story begins at the start of World War I. A school teacher convinces his pupils to join the army, rather than wait to be drafted.
The main Protagonist is Paul Bäumer, a young man full of patriotic fervour. Bäumer arrives at the Western Front with his friends and classmates. There they meet Stanislaus Katczinsky, an older soldier, who becomes Paul's mentor.
As the war drags on and their numbers dwindle, the soldiers become hardened and cynical. The film follows Paul and his friends as they experience the horrors of trench warfare and the gradual loss of hope, humanity, and innocence.
All Quiet on the Western Front Official Trailer
As this is the first film adaptation in the book's native language, the cast comprises mainly German actors. Newcomer Felix Kammerer plays the lead (Paul Bäumer); All Quiet is his first film role.
The brilliant Daniel Brühl stars as Matthias Erzberger, the German diplomat charged with negotiating Germany’s surrender in the war’s final days.
Brühl will be familiar with English and American audiences from his appearances in Rush, and the Netflix TV series The Alienist.
Albrecht Schuch takes on the role of the wily old soldier (Stanislaus “Kat” Katczinsky). He has worked on many German TV shows and films, including the popular series Bad Banks.
Other cast members include Moritz Klaus as Frantz Müller, Aaron Hilmer as Albert Kropp and Edin Hasanovic as Tjaden Stackfleet.
Is The Netflix War Movie Worth Watching?
If you are looking for a film that accurately depicts the grim reality of war, then Netflix's All Quiet on the Western Front is definitely worth watching.
Obvious comparisons are being made with the recent Sam Mendes movie 1917. However, unlike 1917, All Quiet on the Western Front does not try to be an ‘action movie'.
Instead, it is a more thought-provoking and character-driven drama focusing on war's human cost.
Anglo audiences will have to get used to the German language, but it is well worth making an effort as this new version of All Quiet on the Western Front is a powerful and moving film.
Release Date – Where Can You Watch It?
All Quiet on the West Front premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on Sept. 12, 2022.
However, Netflix subscribers had to wait until October 29th 2022, to stream the movie.
Oscar Buzz Building
The film is already generating significant Oscar buzz and is being tipped for success at next year's awards.
Interestingly, Netflix opted to give the movie a limited cinema release. It is critical that the film meets all of the qualifications for an Oscar, even though it is available to stream on Netflix.
Before release, the film was selected as Germany’s official contender for the 2023 Oscar in the Best International Feature Film category.
Netflix and the German film industry will be hoping that the movie can repeat the original film's success at the Oscars.