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In the movie masterpiece, All Quiet on the Western Front based on a novel by Erich Maria Remarque, and directed by Lewis Milestone dissects the experiences of the German Soldiers, the detested enemies of the English and the Americans for the entire periods of the two world wars. The main reason behind the popularity of All Quiet on the Western Front was its ability to present true nature of the lives of German soldiers. As opposed to other literary war movies at the time that focused on ideals of honor, glory, and war adventure, Lewis explored the violence and brutality of the war from realistic position and based its analysis on the tribulations of the German soldiers in combat. The purpose of this review is to examine the horrors of World War I and how the Great War destroyed an entire generation of young men. To achieve this objective, this review will analyze how the Great War stripped the young men of their innocence and left them with a sense of meaninglessness that eventually earned them the title “Lost Generation.”
The Horror of World War I
One dominant theme of this work is the terrible brutality of World War I that encompasses all facets of this entire movie. Whereas all the films at the time of war that originated from Germany romanticized patriotic duty, honor, war adventure and glory in winning wars and war propaganda, All Quiet on the Western Front sought to present the horrors of war as it was in the combat. This replaced empty heroism of the war with meaninglessness and death in the hands of the enemy soldiers.
Horror as a central theme in this work is depicted in all sections of the movie. Coming to face with brutality and death is uncommon in the field. Throughout the conversation among the soldiers, Lewis demonstrates the sheer and constant fear of the soldiers. Lewis demonstrates the horror of the World War I through the analysis of the war by portraying the mind-numbing savagery of the war. Putting a relentless focus on the ugly scenes of the war and the manner in which killing is made easier and impersonal, the film epitomizes on the devastating effects encompassed in war episodes. In fact, from the beginning of the film, brutalities of the war are depicted by the horrifying lives of the soldiers. Having lost seventy soldiers in the field, Louis callous attitude serves as similar detachment as the description of the events in the field.
All Quiet on the Western Front depicts the manner in which war has eroded the modesty of the young men because it is set among German soldiers on the frontline. The ruinous effect war life has on the soldiers is great and is depicted by the manner in which they lose their modesty. Subjected to constant physical danger, losing friends in combat and the possibility of being blown up to pieces at any slight moment. In most scenes of this film, Lewis illustrates soldiers whose innocence is lost in the intrigues of the war. In fact, the only way soldiers survive in the field is by suppressing their feelings and emotions. The lives of the soldiers in the field are a depiction of crippling overload of fear and panic.
In this movie, Lewis is devoted in illustrating the mental and emotional rot of soldier’s innocence. The beginning of the erosion innocence is the beating in the hands of the corporal as the solders are prepared mentally and psychologically for the hard times ahead. The destruction of innocent people begins at the time they are recruited in the army. The episode of a young man soiling his underwear illustrates the innocence of the young man at the time of recruitment. Happiness and satisfaction are positive aspects of human life stolen from the soldiers and replaced by the sheer will to survive.
As observed from the analysis of key themes of this great movie, All Quiet on the Western Front presents true nature of the lives of German soldiers in complete contrast to other literal war stories of the time. Horrors of war and destruction of an entire generation are key themes in this work.