Monday, May 29, 2006

1929/30 All Quiet on the Western Front

Stars: Lew Ayres, Louis Wolheim, John Wray, Slim Summerville and William Bakewell

There is something ominous in watching a movie about World War 1, made before the spectre of World War 2 was even a notion of occurring. The characters in this war epic are followed from their schooldays, through basic training and into the war. They grow and become hardened by the war and change from being naively patriotic, to questioning why they are there. It is incredibly anti-war, with occasional lapses into melodrama and shmaltz. It is about the German occupation in the first War, but doesn'’t dwell on the how and why of the war. But simply the decision to War is made by government officials, but it is the foot soldiers, who know little of the machinations far above them, who fight the faceless enemies. These enemies, who they surmise, are just as mystified by the reasons they are there; hungry, cold, tired and desperately wanting a reason for their involvement.

Lew Ayres, playing the lead role of Paul Baumer, seemed to be ultimately inspired by the film, and in subsequent years by being a conscientious objector in WW2. Unfortunately, this earned him the ire of the American public, and many theatres refused to show his work in future years. His portrayal of the motivated youth, turned cynical and tired soldier became his legacy.

2 Comments:

Blogger Peter B said...

Hey Cath...

I know it's an older post, but I've just found your blog :)

I agree with your sentiments about this powerful film, but not the history.

In fact AQOTWF is an anti-war film made particularly to address the growing and very real spectre of what would become WW2.

By 1929 the Weimar Republic of Germany was reeling in economic recession of the highest order.

The ridiculously punitive conditions of the Great War's Armistice and by proxy the governments of those nations that would later ally against Germany, was already widely held as the culprit.

(Most likely because it was true... WW2 really started on the 11th of November 1918!)

Political resistance which would become the Third Reich was already solidly rising. While Hitler wasn't yet Chancellor, the National Socialist party was coming to genuine prominence and relevance.

The film was a desparate plea not to tread the same dark path again. Sadly, it was not to be heeded :(

Thursday, August 03, 2006 10:14:00 pm  
Blogger Peter said...

Hey Cath...

I know it's an older post, but I've just found your blog :)

I agree with your sentiments about this powerful film, but not the history.

In fact AQOTWF is an anti-war film made particularly to address the growing and very real spectre of what would become WW2.

By 1929 the Weimar Republic of Germany was reeling in economic recession of the highest order.

The ridiculously punitive conditions of the Great War's Armistice and by proxy the governments of those nations that would later ally against Germany, was already widely held as the culprit.

(Most likely because it was true... WW2 really started on the 11th of November 1918!)

Political resistance which would become the Third Reich was already solidly rising. While Hitler wasn't yet Chancellor, the National Socialist party was coming to genuine prominence and relevance.

The film was a desparate plea not to tread the same dark path again. Sadly, it was not to be heeded :(

ps, I think I posted under the wrong blogger profile. take 2 :)

Thursday, August 03, 2006 10:16:00 pm  

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