In 1917, the third year of World War 1, eighteen-year-old Paul Baumer (Kammerer) is fully prepared to fight for the Fatherland- or so he believes. Shipped to the front lines, he experiences the horrors of trench warfare, with hours of filthy drudgery punctuated by moments of unthinkable savagery. Meanwhile, knowing the war is lost, government minister Matthias Erzberger (Bruhl) works to negotiate a peace settlement with France, but his own military impedes the process.
Based on Erich Maria Remarque’s 1928 best-seller, which searingly depicted the “war to end all wars” from the losing side, Berger’s “All Quiet” updates and expands on the original Hollywood film from 1930. In this highly graphic German version, we are enveloped in the brutality of this horrific conflict right alongside young Paul. Though often hard to watch, the film is beautifully mounted, and further elevated by note-perfect performances from Kammerer, Bruhl, and most poignantly, Albrecht Schuch as Kat, Paul’s older fellow enlistee. War is hell, and this Oscar-winner (for Best Foreign Language Film) proves it.