Review of “All Quiet On The Western Front”: The Value of the Uniform to the Detriment of life

With an anti-war message, "All Quiet On The Western Front" from Germany threatens to be the movie of the night at the Oscars.

Frame 'All Quiet on the Front'

Photo: Netflix

LatinAmerican Post | Julián Gómez

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Leer en español: Reseña de “Sin Novedad en el frente”: El valor del uniforme en detrimento de la vida

With nine Oscar Award nominations, "All Quiet On The Western Front" is perhaps the main threat of "Argentina, 1985" in Best International Film. Many go further and believe that he can keep the Best Picture statuette at the ceremony.

This anti-war story comes at the right moment in the global situation with the war between Ukraine and Russia. This item may be key to the repercussion it is having, but as a work it has many attributes to be considered among the best that have been done on warfare in recent years.

What is the film about?

Based on the eponymous book by Eric Maria Remarque, "All Quiet On The Western Front" features Paul (Felix Kammerer), a young man who wants to join the German army with the illusion, sold by government propaganda, of advancing to Paris during the auction of the First World War.

Through it, the viewer can get an idea of what daily life on the Western Front could have been like. This command, which lasted four years, left a balance of more than three million soldiers sacrificed for a few meters of territory. In the end, the commanders failed to achieve their goal and in the name of honor dragged out the agony of a generation until the last minute. Paul and his friends experience firsthand the worst of this trench warfare.

The German film produced by Netflix is directed by Edward Berger and premiered on the platform in September of last year. At the BAFTAs, "All Quiet On The Western Front​​​​​​​" won seven statuettes, including Best Picture, and now it's going for the feat at the Oscars.

Also read: These are the five nominees for Best International Film at the Oscars 2023. How to see them?

The uniform above the soldier

In a few words, "All Quiet on the Front" portrays how in World War I, a uniform had more validity than the soldier who wore it. In one of the dialogues, Kat (Albert Schuch) says to Paul: “What do I know? I'm a pair of boots with a rifle." This last sentence that summarizes the main premise of the film.

In addition, it portrays the implacable paradox that war presents us, in which a lot happens, but little changes. The human essence becomes cold figures that feed a report; the individual and particular is erased by destruction; Those who end up writing history with their decisions, even when they are the defeated, do so from opulence.

The scheme of the film puts Paul as the main connector of the subplots, but it is really Kat who ends up giving meaning to the narrative construction. The story begins and ends in the same way: a rookie soldier collecting the identities of the fallen soldiers, all to give a final meaning to the name he bears.

In addition to this subtext that the film shows us, the most heartbreaking thing ends up being the severed dreams. There is too much power in one of the scenes that with simple language touches deep fibers.

Minutes after being wounded, Kat remembers an anecdote from when he tried to study in which the teacher asked him for a word that rhymed with "grimbling," to which she couldn't answer. The answer is given by Paul: "Shotgun." Kat was never able to finish her studies like Paul did, but the war, the shotgun, evened it out.

The film has a narrative force that stands on its own, but the photography is probably the highlight. The symmetry that some scenes have borders on perfection, and the sound design accompanies this aspect to return to the film a kind of immersive experience.

With a good script and stunning photography, "All Quiet On The Western Front​​​​​​​" could leave behind films like "Dunkirk" or "Jojo Rabbit" in its war genre.

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