Plot – A German youth eagerly enters World War I, but his enthusiasm wanes as he gets a firsthand view of the horror – All Quiet on the Western Front.
Director – Lewis Milestone
Released – 1930
All Quiet on the Western Front is one of the earliest non-silent anti-war movie’s and arguably remains to this day the most powerful as it shows the transformation a young German soldier suffers during his time in the World War I trenches. Starting off with a childlike confidence that going to war would lead to everlasting glory, only for the reality of the conflict to beat him down and leave him struggling with his own mortality and the hypocrisy shown by those who didn’t fight but promised the world to those that did.
The entire film is a cinematographic masterpiece full of symbolism, impressive camera work, and a surprising level of violence. Positioning the viewer the heart of the warfare to where you almost feel you’re one of these young men charging towards a hail of machine-gun bullets, explosions and almost certain death. The film also benefits from the fact the entire cast delivers exceptional performances thought out, especially Wolheim and Ayres, who masterfully help depict how the conflict-affected different generations.