FilmReview: All is Quiet on The Western Front
Theart of war as many may imagine it today is a place where peopleespecially well-trained soldiers go and fight each other. One wouldimagine a situation where the soldiers are well equipped regardingthe artillery they possess as well as the gear for use in the war.One would also picture a scenario where the soldiers have the backingof technology such that they can predict what the enemy will do. Theycan plan for the fight well as they all try to outsmart each other ina bid to get the upper hand.
However,the scenario shown in the film by Lewis Milestone is a very differentaffair that has its roots in the world wars that rocked the world.The characters in the movie ail from Germany, which was one thepowers involved in the power struggle. The soldiers had the mostinhumane conditions to operate under but the braved on since theywere patriotic to their countries. However, any individual who hopesfor a modern war is just but a dreamer since the chances of thathappening are dismal. The world as it is today is not susceptible toanything that may lead to a war that would result in loss of life anddestruction of property.
Oneplanning for a modern war would be operating under the illusion ofdeception. That is because the world learnt its lessons from theGreat War such that it would not allow itself to get pulled back tothe dark days. One would be insane to think that the world could bepushed to the brink of losing themselves to war once again. Themodern world is one that operates under the rule of law and as such awar is highly unlikely. There are institutions such as the UnitedNations, which have been set up to make sure such a war never breaksout ever again.
Thefilm brings out an aspect of technological advancement since it showshow badly the soldiers were equipped and the lack of technology orinnovation in the war. They used the antique guns that were manualand required a lot of human effort to operate. Today the artilleryused by security forces is highly established thanks to technology.The warfare tactics have also improved since today soldiers can useinformation technology to track enemies and plan how to tackle themeffectively.
Thereexist an immense difference between patriotic idealism and thereality of war. The lead character in the movie, Paul Baumer, wasforced to join the German army after being influenced by his teacherand being fed the goods of patriotism. He went in as a patriot butcame out like a broken and beaten man. The cost of war had taken atoll on him, and the aspects of patriotism in him did not hold water.The discrepancy between the two is that one gives more in war thanwhat it takes to be a patriot, but nobody informs the soldiers of theprice they will pay.
Thetop officers in the film as any other scenario are charged with theresponsibility of the winning the war as well as protecting theirsoldiers. The German top command was inflexible as well asincompetent, and that was one of the reasons why the Germanseventually lost the war. They did not change their tactics even whenthey were losing. They also did not seem to care about how theirsoldiers were fairing and the morale they needed. The human bodytakes torturous activities up to a certain level and beyond that itcannot sustain it anymore. The act of large-scale modern war may notfavor the natural genetic makeup as it would be demanding. The lackof food as seen in the film, as well as the regular fights, may weighone down to the level of draining them. Most of the soldiers in thefilm seem to be malnourished, and they are killed in the war sincetheir bodies cannot take it anymore.
AllQuiet on the Western Front.(1979).
Eksteins,M. (1980). All Quiet on the Western Front and the Fate of a War.Journalof Contemporary History,15(2),345-366. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/002200948001500207