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‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ Netflix Movie Review - Horrors of War

The movie follows 17-year-old Paul, who joins the Western Front in World War I, but his initial excitement is soon shattered by the grim reality of life in the trenches

Vikas Yadav - Fri, 28 Oct 2022 17:10:44 +0100 3073 Views
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Edward Berger's All Quiet on the Western Front, set in the closing years of World War I, sees war as a destructive machine and the soldiers as its cogs. This reading becomes apparent from the opening scenes, where dead soldiers' uniforms are sewed up and passed on to new German recruits. One of them is Paul (an excellent Felix Kammerer). These young soldiers are treated as spare parts that replace the failed components, aka corpses. The people in power and those who sit behind desks are shockingly detached from the servicemen. The names of the dead are uttered with casual indifference. "Yesterday was his birthday," says a man after reading the date of birth of a dead soldier, as if pointing out something as mundane as the color of the water.

Those who have authority, too, are not so sympathetic toward the men fighting the war. They have too much pride and cannot accept defeat, even in the face of extreme human losses. When the soldiers are told to fight after an agreement for peace is signed, we momentarily view them from as far as the man giving orders. They all look indistinguishable, which is exactly how the superior officer sees them: Indistinct, replaceable toys meant for exploitation. Only one man named Matthias Erzberger (Daniel Brühl) shows concern for the soldiers. His goodness stems from the fact that his own son died in the war. He has suffered personal loss and knows how painful it is to lose someone.

Unfortunately, the others are not as concerned as Matthias. They recruit any young man and send them to war. These boys are not properly trained. Paul and his friend learn about something as essential and lifesaving as "shoot and cover" while on duty. They enter the army with a glamorous image of war. Initially, they hold their guns with excitement and smile ecstatically at the thought of killing French soldiers. When the movie opens with the sight of corpses, we - like Paul and his friends - imagine that All Quiet on the Western Front will turn out to be like one of those exhilarating war movies that treat bullets and corpses as spectacles or fodder for brutal, bloody and exciting action sequences. However, it soon becomes clear - both to us and Paul's friends - that there is nothing electrifying in this battle.

Look beneath the melancholic surface of All Quiet on the Western Front, and you will find that it's burning with anger. The movie is charged with frustration and irritation, and given the current political scenario, it appeals to us to consider the destruction brought by wars. The violence here exudes sadness. The mournful faces of soldiers seconds before their death communicates the idea that no one really enjoys the act of killing another person, especially when you have seen a lot of massacres. These soldiers have lost their friends and do not wish to harm anyone else. But they are forced to carry out deadly tasks. Paul's face before his final battle resembles the face of someone who is tired and has surrendered himself like a robot. He runs and stabs his enemies like a puppet.

War steals the life of men, both literally and figuratively. When Paul reads someone's personal letter, we see how that man's familial life is getting buried under the rubble of war. Another side effect of war includes a lack of communication with the other sex. One of Paul's friends is unable to talk to women. When some girls pass in the distance, he can only look at them, as he does not know how to approach them. Since he cannot talk to females face-to-face, he tears up a lady's poster and has a conversation with it.

The plight of these soldiers is not so different from those insects in a glass and a matchbox. They are trapped like those tiny animals. Or you can connect the visual to the scene where Paul and his friends find the corpses of soldiers inside a room. People refer to their country as their fatherland. Generally, in movies, fathers are depicted as strict and cold. They lack the compassion of a mother. In the film, those in power are like these fathers: Uncaring and rude towards their children (soldiers).

If you are looking for a movie to watch on Netflix this weekend, make sure it's All Quiet on the Western Front. This Germany's submission for the Oscars is one of the best films of the year.

Final Score- [10/10]
Reviewed by - Vikas Yadav
Follow @vikasonorous on Twitter
Publisher at Midgard Times



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