21 November 2011

All Quiet on the Western Front

The other afternoon my brain was a bit finished, so I turned to this list of movies again. In keeping with my apparent love of war movies, I progressed from A Farewell to Arms to All Quiet on the Western Front (1930), based on the novel Im Westen nichts Neues by Erich Maria Remarque. It took the honours for best film and best director (Lewis Milestone) at the 1929/30 Oscars. It was also nominated for best writing, and best cinematography (Arthur Edeson). The interplay between direction, cinematography and editing is quite masterful in many scenes. You can forget about modern special effects, these guys knew how to make an account of war that you won't easily forget. Speaking of modern though, from what I've seen on IMDb, it looks like a remake is on the cards.

Please pardon the enormous image. I got a bit carried away with good shots and the narrative. It's also not the shortest film.

Here's an approximation of my favourite part of the writing. (Some random labelling of characters, since they die too quickly for one to remember their names.)

Beardy: Well how do they start a war?
Front: Well, one country offends another.
Beardy: How could one country offend another? You mean there's a mountain over in Germany that gets mad at a field over in France?
Front: Well stupid, one people offends another.
Beardy: Oh, that's it? I shouldn't be here at all! I don't feel offended.
Kat: It don't apply to tramps like you.
Beardy: Good. Then I can be going home right away.
Paul: Nah, you just try it.
(You'll probably get shot.)
Beardy: The Kaiser and me...
Beardy: Me and the Kaiser felt just alike about this war. Didn't neither of us want any war, so I'm going home. He's there already.
Young 'un: Somebody must've wanted it. Maybe it was the English. No... I don't wanna shoot any Englishmen. I never saw one till I came up here. I suppose most of them never saw a German till they came up here. Oh, I'm sure they weren't asked about it.
Cigar: Well, it must be doing somebody some good.
Beardy: Not me and the Kaiser.
Young 'un: I think maybe the Kaiser wanted a war.
Beardy: You leave us out of this.
Kat: I don't see that. The Kaiser's got everything he needs.
Another: Well, he never had a war before. Every admiral needs one war to make him famous. Why, that's history.
Paul: Generals too, they need war.
Young 'un: And manufacturers—they get rich!
Front: I think it's more... a kind of fever. Nobody wants it in particular, and then all at once, there it is! We didn't want it, the English didn't want it, and here we are—fighting!
Kat: I'll tell you how it should all be done. Whenever there's a big war coming on, they should rope off a big field—
Lying down: Sell tickets!
Kat: —yeah. And... and on the big day, you should take all the kings, and their cabinets, and their generals, put them in the center dressed in their underpants and let them fight it out with clubs. The best country wins.
All: (sarcastic) Hurray!

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