[OSCAR REVIEW] All Quiet on the Western Front: an emotional ride into history…and Germany


ALL QUIET. Paul and his friend Albert Kropp quietly listen while on nightwatch.

There are an awful lot of movies out there about war.

Although, no war movie is as perfectly and intricately executed as the Netflix original film, All Quiet on the Western Front. This drama about the First World War in 1914 and is based on the book of the same name written by Erich Maria Remarque, a German veteran.

There are two crucial characters in the film: Paul (Felix Kammer) and Stanislaus (Albrecht Schuch). Paul is a 20-year-old man that gets drafted to go fight in the war, and Stanislaus is an older soldier that serves as a mentor for Paul. There are three other semi-main characters that are Paul’s friends that also get drafted with him. These friends are Albert Kropp (Aaron Hilmer), Franz Müller (Moritz Klaus), and Ludwig Behm (Adrian Grünewald).

In a nutshell, All Quiet on the Western Front is about the traumatic and intense experiences that young men go through in World War I. The story starts with Paul and his friends getting drafted. Although, with their bright eyes and outlooks these young men do not understand the horrors of war yet. While death and intimate gore mainly make up a lot of the following plot points, the film also explores moments of unconditional empathy between humans in desperate times. In All Quiet’s case, this message is shown by soldiers trying to save their comrades in the war. To tell the entire story of life during World War I, the film spends some, but not a lot, of time telling the officials’ side of the story.

To create the perfect storm of connection and emotion, some realistic elements were left out. At one point in the movie, Paul stabs a French soldier in the chest. The viewers of the movie see connections between humans while in vulnerable states but, therefore, the French man took an unrealistic amount of time to die. For perspective, this soldier was choking on mud and his own blood for at least seven straight minutes. Although unrealistic, this particular scene shows the audience that humans are capable of empathy even if it may go against others’ expectations or beliefs. The sole character that this is represented in is Paul.

All Quiet on the Western Front does a phenomenal job of creating a strong relationship between the characters and the audience, and since the film does not leave out any gory details, watching it is a truly immersive experience.

Since the film does not leave out any gory details, watching it is a truly immersive experience.

Generally, this was a beautiful and impressionable movie because of how up close and personal the camera captured scenes and characters. This movie deserves a 4/5 star rating because of the well-thought-out emotional and behavioral developments that required realism to be sacrificed. Realism was thrown to the wayside during the heartbreaking scene between Paul and the French soldier. Additionally, watching the battlefield affect Paul and his friends allows the audience to almost feel as if they are experiencing the story themselves.

Since this movie tells a highly detailed story of war, it should not be shown to kids under the age of about 13 (although, that does depend on one’s maturity level). Otherwise, people of older age should be able to watch this movie and value it.

The one main moral that is picked up during the viewing of All Quiet on the Western Front is that humans are not cold-hearted creatures, even in war.

This review is part of a series released on films nominated for Oscars. The 95th Annual Oscars ceremony takes place today.