Lewis Milestone’s 1930 classic All Quiet on the Western Front was a revolutionary movie, both from a cinematic point of view, and for its anti-war subject matter, so it’s no small feat for Netflix’s take on the story to have apparently lived up to its predecessor, according to the first wave of reviews.
Directed by Edward Berger, All Quiet On The Western Front is the first German adaptation of the Erich Maria Remarque novel Im Westen nichts Neues, which depicts the gruesome reality of German soldiers in World War I. It shows the side of the loser, not by demonizing the opposition, but by exposing war’s arbitrary and frivolous nature.
With only a few privileged enough to catch the first screening of the movie (which has already been selected as Germany’s submission for the Oscars) at the Toronto Film Festival on Monday, the first few assessments are starting to roll in and they’re very optimistic.
The Wrap’s Steve Pond calls the film “visually spectacular, but by turns infuriating and heartbreaking,” while Pete Hammond for Deadline compliments Berger and his co-writers for taking on the mammoth task of remaking such a lauded classic. According to Marya E. Gates of The Playlist, “Berger and his crew have crafted a faithful and heart-wrenching adaptation that fully realizes the novel’s trenchant anti-war themes.”
Screen Daily’s Fionnuala Halligan emphasizes the movie’s lack of gimmicks in comparison to “a one-shot chase film like Sam Mendes’ 1917, a romanticised Joyeux Noel or the cruel life story of a War Horse,” with the critic praising All Quiet for being “straightforward and direct.”
It seems to be pretty much unanimous that All Quiet On The Western Front is a visual triumph, with harrowing sequences that effectively deliver a message that is as relevant as ever at a time where war is once again waging in Europe.
All Quiet on the Western Front comes to Netflix on Oct. 28.