A number of war movies have won best picture at the Oscars namely, Apocalypse Now (1979), Platoon (1986), Schindler’s List (1993), Braveheart (1995), The English Patient (1996), and The Hurt Locker (2009). Apocalypse Now and Platoon were both shot in the Philippines.
At this year’s 95th Academy Awards, Edward Berger’s All Quiet on the Western Front got nine nominations, including best picture, best international feature, cinematography, production design, visual effects, sound, makeup and hairstyling, original score, and adapted screenplay.
Berger’s version continues with the anti-war sentiments of the author who, drafted in real life into the German army with his classmates in 1916, fought in Belgium.
The film, which runs for two hours and 23 minutes, follows Paul Bäumer (Felix Kammerer), a German soldier on the Western Front who came with his schoolmates Müller (Moritz Klaus), Kropp (Aaron Hilmer), together with Stanislaus “Kat” Katczinsky (Albrecht Schuch), who became a father figure and mentor to the young soldiers.
Paul’s experience as an innocent, enthusiastic German soldier who keeps firing and dodging bullets, hacking away at enemies and trying to survive their attacks is best summed up in the phrase “No rest for the wicked.”
There is a request for a ceasefire but death still lingers. The German soldiers march toward the French trenches and, for a few minutes, it feels like victory, but once the tanks arrive, Paul knows he is doomed.
Paul’s friends slowly leave him one by one. The German army retreats and regroups in Eguisac. “I miss my comrades, sir. I miss them all,” says Paul to his mentor Kat. Kat answers back, “I miss my mother, for God’s sake.”
Is going to war really worth it? Kat reminds Paul: “We’re the lucky ones.” There is hope that soon they are returning home, going back to their normal lives where everyone would want to know about the battles they have won and their heroic acts.
War may be over but blinded by right-wing propaganda, a tragedy strikes Paul as he tries to follow orders until the 11 a.m. armistice. The message is clear: Death and trauma are the war’s aftermath for these young men. Rotten Tomatoes gave All Quiet on the Western Front 92 percent in Tomatometer and 90 percent in audience score. The film is now streaming on Netflix.
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