(Review originally written at 14 December 2007)

There were some anti-war movies before this one but none of them hit the mark- and made its point so well such as this one. It's still one of most powerful movies ever made, out of any genre or time period. And not just that, the movie is also really among the best ever made.

The movie concentrates on a group of German soldiers during WW I, of which most of them are still just only school kids in the beginning. First we see how the very young boys are being reprogrammed as soldiers. Then we see how they all are slowly going crazy, due to the madness of war. After that the movie shows the aftereffects of war, on those who fought in it. From the hospital till their leave back home, this movie shows and tells it all. We further more see them dealing with all kinds of problems; the lack of food, rats, the death and see them discuss the point of war. Or like Paul Bäumer sums up in the movie; "We live in the trenches out there. We fight. We try not to be killed, but sometimes we are. That's all."

It's not hard to see that this movie influenced many other later war/anti-war movies, even till this present day, with "Full Metal Jacket" and "Starship Troopers" as the most obvious and best known examples.

For its time period this was also a very graphic movie, although no way people will now be shocked by any of the 'gore' within this movie. Nevertheless the movie its violence and disturbing moments still haven't lost any of its power. This is also thanks to the great build-up directing by Lewis Milestone. He knows how to create the right certain tension and the atmosphere that goes with it. He also had a real eye for detail, especially of course during the battle sequences. Because of its many little details the movie also becomes a very realistic one.

The movie features some great looking and also at times innovating The camera positions and angles, as well as the good fast editing. It makes this a technical fantastic movie to watch.

Obviously none of the actors are among the greatest of their time but the characters are all nevertheless great, since they are very humane and realistic and each has their own strong identity.

A movie that you HAVE to see at least once in your lifetime.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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