The 1929-1930 Academy Award movie ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT tells the story of a young German soldier, Paul, who enlists in the army during World War I, along with his friends, then loses each of them in battle. The movie is surprisingly gory with vivid, exciting battle scenes, but they are not glamorized the way they are in most films. When the men engage in hand-to-hand combat in the trenches, it is clear that they are sticking each other with bayonets and bashing heads in. In a discussion of what causes war, one soldier says, “One country offends another.” Another responds, “What does that mean?” “A mountain in Germany offends a field in France?” “Well, one people offends another,” answers his friend. The other man responds with “Well, I don’t feel offended!”
ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT remains one of the most effective anti-war films ever made, and it is one of the only American films to portray Germans in a sympathetic light. The centerpiece of the film is Lew Ayres’ performance as Paul. Watching this film is a poignant experience when one remembers that despite its power, it wasn’t able to stave off the Second World War. Perhaps that is so because the filmmakers failed to understand that the cause of war is the nature of man, and the solution is the new nature which is only available through Jesus Christ.
(H, V) Pacificism & violence associated with the realities of war.