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Film Review: All Quiet on the Western Front (2022)

Kelaru & Fulton rating: ★★★★

Available on Netflix | Runtime: 2hrs 28mins

Felix Kammerer emerges as a bright new star in this harrowing and heartbreaking anti-war film adaptation of the classic 1929 novel by Erich Maria Remarque. Set during World War I, All Quiet on the Western Front follows young German soldier Paul Bäumer (Kammerer) as he enlists with his classmates, full of patriotic duty and the promise of adventure, only to be confronted with the grim horrors of life and death in the trenches.

Photo credit: Netflix

Director Edward Berger spares no detail in depicting the endless trauma of trench warfare - the mud, the rats, the rotting bodies, the constant threat of bombardment. The battle scenes are filmed with bloody and brutal realism, while quieter moments allow us to see the bonds formed between the young men faced with the absurdities of war. Kammerer's sensitive performance captures both the innocence and gradual disillusionment of his character.

But this anti-war tale is not limited to the German perspective - French soldiers are humanized just as deeply, and scenes of grieving women on both sides hammer home the universality of loss. Berger and cinematographer - now Oscar-winner - James Friend find moments of visual poetry amidst the carnage, while Volker Bertelmann's moving score complements the somber mood.

Some may argue the film covers familiar ground, but that is precisely the point. All Quiet on the Western Front remains a timeless and emotionally devastating cry against the atrocities of war, now reimagined with the horrors made immediate and unrelenting. Though the outcome is sadly inevitable, Kammerer makes Paul's tragic journey painfully personal, leaving us shaken and with no easy answers. Harrowing yet poetic, this adaptation reminds us that the young souls sacrificed to violence are humans not statistics, united not divided by war's trauma.

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