All Quiet On The Western Front (1930)
It is no secret that the Academy loves war movies. Since many of its members are elderly men, this shouldn’t be much of a surprise. In fact, 17 of the Best Picture winners can be considered war films. One of the finest anti-war movies ever made, All Quiet on the Western Front, won the title at the third annual ceremony. 85 years later, the film is almost as visceral and emotionally gripping as it was at the time of release.
All Quiet on the Western Front follows a platoon of young, naïve German soldiers into the heart of darkness and decay. The drama was adapted from a book by Erich Maria Remarque, who actually served in an infantry during World War I. His harrowing memories of the trenches lasted the adaptation to the screen, as Lewis Milestone’s movie is considered one of the most accurate depictions of battle ever placed on film.
The drama was refreshing in its cruelty and its unflinching, thrilling battle scenes had an obvious effect on directors like Stanley Kubrick (with Paths of Glory) and Steven Spielberg (with Saving Private Ryan). Considering this was one of the first sound films, the fact that the war looks and sounds so relentless and big is something of a marvel. Powerful and penetrating, All Quiet on the Western Front hardly feels dated.