Spoilers for ‘All Quiet on the Front Line’ below!
It hasn’t even been two weeks since Netflix released one of his most powerful proposals of the last year: ‘All Quiet on the Front’. The new war movie on the platform appeared on our screens on October 28 (in Spain) and quickly became one of the titles in the Top 10 most watched Netflix movies of the moment. In addition, it already sounds in the bets as one of the candidates for Best International Film at the 2023 Oscars.
It’s about a remake from the 1930 homonymous film, which already marked a milestone in its day by adapting the novel (with which it also shares a name) by Erich Maria Remarque, in which brings us in the first person to the western front of the First World Warwhere the German and French troops bloodily annihilated each other over just a few meters of territory (for a reason we count it among the best films to learn history: here you will discover what it really meant to go to war).
‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ has many ballots to be included among the best war movies in the history of cinema, as well as among the best films of 2022. The tape isDirected by Edward Berger and starring Felix Kammerer, Albrecht Schuch, Aaron Hilmer, Moritz Klaus, Edin Hasanovic and Sebastian Hülk. It also has Daniel Brühl in its main cast, who gives life to a decisive figure for the outcome of the war.
The film introduces us from the beginning within a group of young Germans who are preparing to enlist to go to the front. The protagonist, Paul Baumer (Felix Krammerer), does not receive the necessary family support to be able to join the troops, but his and his friends decide to forge the document. With his phrase “I am a dead man” (referring to the reprimand he will receive from his parents upon hearing the news), he poetically sentences the tragic fate he will find in the trenches. There is only destruction there. The lightheartedness and even happiness with which the group receives their uniforms and begins their march to battle will soon be overshadowed by the horrors of war.
But what is it that is making it such a strong bet for Netflix at the Oscars? What differentiates this film from others that Netflix has released throughout this 2022? Let’s look at some of its strengths.
The aesthetic vision of the director
Director’s proposal Edward Berger continually marks the opposition between life and death throughout the film. So beautiful and delicate the first; so crude and insensitive the second. She manifests it this way through a continuous use of resource shots in which nature appears to us aesthetically impeccable.
Despite having numerous moments in which the battlefield is unbearable due to its harshness, there is no shortage of moments of genuine happiness within the film. We see some human characters, who have come to this place due to political decisions that are out of their hands. Those who pay the highest price? The men who are thrown into a ditch and forced to give their lives for “the cause”. We see the group of protagonists gather around a pot of soup, to enjoy their punctual banquet; we see the letters they receive from their loved ones; we see a woman’s scarf as a link to love and what is outside the trenches…
There is a lot of death, but a lot of life too. And there the drama of the film is forged, in which the viewer unites in a particularly close way with the protagonists. He shares her fear, her dreams and her death.
Temporality in the fight
The film traverses the last years of the war. From 1917 to November 1918. Stopping at three key moments, in which we will simultaneously see the fight that was waged in the government offices. As the soldiers lose their lives, a group of men tries to reach the peace treaty.
After Baumer and his friends arrive at the front, Paul is tasked with collecting the dog tags of his compatriots who have died in battle. Among them, just a few hours after joining the trench, one of his best friends is found dead. At the end of the film, we see that another soldier (also a newcomer) will do the same to him.
The war represented as a cycle. Baumer’s story becomes a universal tale for all soldiers of the First World War. Over and over again, during the years of war, 17 million people lost their lives.
The last minutes of the film focus on the attack launched by the Germans, forced by their superior in command, during the final quarter hour of the Great War. Having signed the peace, it would become effective at 11:00 a.m. on November 11. However, wounded by the pride of having “failed”, the general of the German troops sends them for one last blow, (so they will return home “with honor”). This absurd gesture turns the only survivors of the front into new victims.
The bitter taste of lives lost at the last moment forms in the end. None of the members of the group, whom we knew at the beginning of the story, manages to leave the front line alive. No time is spent on happy endings. Although in a few moments it seems that it will be so, fate quickly changes. Like life itself.
humanity at war
There are several moments within Berger’s film, in which humanity prevails over the unreason we face. The men, muddy in the mud of death, manage to have moments of lucidity and seem not to want to be part of the hell they are giving shape to.
One of the most important scenes that our protagonist experiences occurs in the middle of the battlefield. After coming face to face with a French soldier and having stabbed him numerous times in the chest. Moments after this, when the troops have withdrawn and the two individuals have been left lying in a hole in the ground, his awareness of his actions manifests itself. What then is your natural reaction to the enemy? Save his life.
Though it is too late, the dying man’s moans stab him like bullets. She then goes to plug the wounds that he himself had caused and attends his death. In the man’s pockets he finds his identification documents and a photo of his wife and his daughter. The weight of giving an identity to the person he has murdered falls like a slab on Paul and on us, who accompany him as sympathizers. The viewer is also guilty.
Baumer keeps these documents, with the purpose of contacting his family when everything is over.
‘All Quiet on the Front Lines’ comes not long after another big title portraying the fighting in World War I.. In 2019, Sam Mendes premiered the acclaimed ‘1917’, in which we were also fully immersed in this battlefield. Accompanying, in this case, two soldiers with a mission almost impossible to achieve. the tape of Mendes got 10 nominations for the Oscar Awards and won 3 of them: Best Photography, Best Sound and Best Visual Effects. In addition to 2 Golden Globes: Best Film and Best Director.
Both plunge us into the mud and the cold of the trenches. In the most recent, only the light of the flares and the fire of the bonfires illuminate us during the dark nights. Bluntly, he subjects us to bullets, ax blows and the terror of tanks and incendiary machines.
Definitely, ‘All Quiet on the Front’ has been placed in a great place within Netflix productions. Following in the footsteps of previous ones such as ‘Roma’ by Alfonso Cuarón, one of the best Netflix original films, we would not be surprised if it ended up occupying a place among the nominated films of the Hollywood Academy Awards. In not much time, we will be able to know it.
‘All Quiet on the Front’ is available at streaming on Netflix.