“All Quiet on the Western Front” is nominated this year for Academy Awards in the Best Picture and Best International Film categories. Told from the perspective of a WWI German soldier, it joins “1917” (2020) in exposing the misery, bravery and total devastation of “The Great War.”
The total number of military and civilian casualties in World War I was around 40 million (20 million deaths and 21 million wounded). In one battle, Verdun, that lasted almost the entirety of 1916 the German death toll was 143,000 while the French lost 162,440. It’s hard to wrap one’s mind around these figures. An infamous quote by Joseph Stalin, “The death of one man is a tragedy; the death of a million is a statistic” callously describes the difficulty comprehending the loss of life in war.
With modern cinematography, special effects and CGI, “All Quiet on the Western Front” drags us into the trenches of this terrible war similar to how the opening sequence of “Saving Private Ryan” shows the chaos and confusion on Omaha Beach in the early moments of D-DAY, June 6th, 1944.
These films are experiences that will deeply affect the viewer and it is unimaginable a war on this scale could happen again. The Russian invasion of Ukraine one year ago reveals it’s still possible.
“All Quiet on the Western Front” is my Oscar pick. It’s a compelling story, beautifully filmed, adeptly directed with gritty production design and costuming and a superb cast that literally gets into the trenches.
All Quiet on the Western Front” is available to watch on Netflix, Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, and other platforms.