Academy Awards 1930 -
Best Director: Lewis Milestone
Academy Awards 1930 -
USA Today - 01/15/1999
"...The third best-picture Oscar winner is still one of the best movies to have won the award..."
Total Film - 03/01/2001
"...Few films have conveyed the confusion, brutality and senseless sacrifice of organised conflict more vividly than Lewis Milestone's monochrome masterpiece..."
Uncut - 12/01/2003
"It resonates with a sense of contempt for battle that has never been captured before or since."
Lewis Milestone's adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque's anti-war novel is a masterpiece whose power to disturb remains undiminished by the passage of time. The film stars Lew Ayres as the young Paul Bauman, who, along with a group of his teenaged classmates, are conscripted into the German army during WWI. The youths quickly realize that the patriotic hogwash they had been fed by their schoolmaster has absolutely has nothing to do with the horror they observe and experience on the front lines.
Still widely regarded as the best war film ever made, director Lewis Milestone's adaptation of the Remarque WWI novel is clearly his masterpiece, a searing indictment of the insanity of war. Starring Lew Ayres as the young Paul Bauman, the film focuses on the fates of the boy and his classmates, who have enlisted to fight in the German army during WWI. Still on fire with the patriotism instilled by their teacher, Kantorek (Arnold Lucy), they arrive for training, eager to face death. When they reach the front lines, the realize that the German troops have few supplies and no food. Sgt. Katczinsky (Louis Wolheim), briefs the recruits on how to avoid getting killed, but on the first night, one of them gets shot. The carnage of the battle shocks the boys, and some are driven mad. Day after day, the recruits huddle in the trenches, frightened, starving, and unable to gain ground, realizing that it is not glorious to die for one's fatherland. This powerfully affecting film is brilliantly directed and written, and generally well acted despite some dated elements. Milestone's magnificent crane and tracking shots of the battlefields surely owe something to the work of Karl Freund, arguably the finest cinematographer in film history.
Essential Cinema |
World War I
Theatrical release: April 29, 1930.
ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT was added to the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 1990.
Future director George Cukor acted as dialogue director.
Future director Fred Zinnemann appeared as an extra.
Reaction to the film in Germany led to Remarque's immigration to the United States.
The film was restored to its full 132 minutes in 1987.
Estimated budget: $1.25 million.
The film received much attention for being one of the largest-scale talkies to date (1930).