So we’ve previously seen one film that shows the true horrors of war- King Vidor’s The Big Parade. Now next on this list is the mother of all anti-war films, All Quiet on the Western Front. What gives this film a real bang (ignore the pun) compared to The Big Parade is its use of sound to give audiences further emphasis on the intensity war brings. This Best Picture winner is about a bunch of students who decide to enlist in World War I after hearing their teacher preach about the importance of defending the fatherland but learn the devastating costs in being a soldier.
This image says it all about what makes this film a propaganda anti-war film. Soldiers go out on the battlefield risking their lives and don’t even get to come home to see the turnout of the country they were defending. And even if they do survive, they can still suffer major consequences like loss of limbs, the painful memories, and returning with people hailing them as national heroes. The quote in the beginning of the film really stood about to me- “…for death is not an adventure to those who stand and face it.” It’s easy to call soldiers heroes and that fighting in combat is thrilling and exciting but when lives are lost, you wonder if it was even worth it.
The battle sequences were outstanding to see. Can you guess how many extras there were on set? 2,000! You can tell that the crew definitely took advantage of the use of sound by hearing the loud sound of the cannons, the rifles, the gunshots, and the bodies falling. A lot of strong scenes had such an impact on me such as the scene when Paul Bäumer is speaking to a dead body that he killed and is contemplating why war occurs and begging the body to forgive him for killing him. Makes me wonder if a lot of soldiers feel that way. Especially the scene with Bäumer and the butterfly sums up what every soldier can feel in war- while it may look like he’s reaching out for a butterfly, he’s really reaching out for beauty and hope all for it to be taken away by a gunshot. Not even Nazi protests could stop this film from being a masterpiece.
Watch this classic ant-war film and comment your thoughts. Unfortunately, I’m having trouble embedding the video on here so here’s a link from Veoh: