A total gem of a film.
Just a quick word of apology to my subscribers. I apologize if my posts have been clogging up inboxes due to their frequency but the only explanation I can offer is that due to the profuseness of my free-time, I have a lot of time to watch films. There is really no point in putting spoiler alerts here because this film is 83 years old. It’s hardly hot off the presses.
It’s the story of the disallusionment of a young soldier, Paul Baumer, and the rest of his unit as they face combat in World War I. The audience sees the slide from patriotism to world-weariness on the part of the soldiers who are convinced to join up by the stirring words of their teacher. The soldiers learn about the harsh realities of war while on the frontline and think deeply about questions relating to war, questioning why they have to fight the enemy when they’d barely set eyes on them before, or why they even wanted the war in the first place. Paul, the main character, becomes very world-weary and talks of the true reality of war when he returns home on leave and sees his teacher giving the same speech to a much younger class of boys who will inevitably go out and become cannon fodder.
Paul eventually dies at the hands of a sniper while trying – and failing – to reach for a butterfly. Some may say that this film is somewhat unpolished in the way it is put together. The editing can be jerky at times, and the dialogue can seem laborious, with long scenes and few camera angle changes. There is a very notable absence of special effects. We have been conditioned by all the other films that we watch to demand a film ripe with dramatic dialogue, special effects and a sweeping soundtrack. Quiet gives you jerky editing, long scenes and a lack of a soundtrack. And its all the better for it.
It is certainly different to watch a war film from a different perspective. The audience is always shown a story from the point of view of ‘the winners’, and rarely from an opposing perspective, such as this one when it is shown from the German perspective; how the German soldiers were trying to figure out why they were told to slaughter the enemy, and who exactly ordered the war in the first place?
If you haven’t managed to watch this film once in the 83 years of its existence, then go and watch it because its worth it.
MY RATING: 5 / 5.