“All Quiet on the Western Front” was released in 1930, it is completely in black and white. For some of you who think this makes for a poor film, you are really missing out. , All Quiet on The Western Front is one of the great war films. Based on the novel of the same name by Erich Maria Remarque, it follows the day to day suffering of young infantrymen during World War One.
The grainy, black and white footage enhances the ability of this film to convey the dreary sufferings of war. The ruined landscape, the muddy conditions, the sadness of death and the destruction of the young all feels less so campy and more authentic as this film ages.
The characters are terrific but the two stars are the rugged and fatherly Kat (played to tough love perfection by Louis Walhiem) and the young and more innocent Paul (a convincing Lew Ayres). These characters complement each other perfectly throughout the film.
One aspect of All Quiet that fascinated me was the battle scenes, especially the first attack that Paul and his company make on the French. The battle is intense and violent (for 1930’s standards), the scenery has a huge sweep and magnitude (by any standard) and displays a perfect balance between entertainment and conveying the futility of fighting over a small piece of land.
One of the great films that still stands up in many ways to modern films of this era. Check it out. You’ll love it.