All Quiet on the Western Front

1930

All Quiet on the Western Front

Critics Consensus

Director Lewis Milestone's brilliant anti-war polemic, headlined by an unforgettable performance from Lew Ayres, lays bare the tragic foolishness at the heart of war.

100%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 43

89%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 17,968
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All Quiet on the Western Front Photos

Movie Info

Follow a group of idealistic young men as they join the German Army during World War I and are assigned to the Western Front, where their patriotism is destroyed by the harsh realities of combat.

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Critic Reviews for All Quiet on the Western Front

All Critics (43) | Top Critics (13)

  • Lewis Milestone's groundbreaking war film is up with La Grande Illusion as one of the finest humanitarian antiwar movies ever made.

    Jan 14, 2018 | Full Review…
  • The lovely, terrible final image... is as heartbreaking in 1988 as it was a half century ago.

    Jan 9, 2018 | Full Review…
  • The performances are haunting.

    Feb 20, 2015 | Full Review…

    Wendy Ide

    Times (UK)
    Top Critic
  • So magnificent, so powerful, that it hardly behooves mere words to tell of its heart-rending appeal, of its dramatic fire, its breath-taking battle shots in which men stab and kill each other, for the glory of war.

    Feb 17, 2015 | Full Review…
  • The despair-and the artistry-is breathtaking.

    May 22, 2012 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…
  • From such grisly materials the popular cinema is rarely drawn. The film is monumental in the courage that risked its manufacture.

    Feb 17, 2009 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for All Quiet on the Western Front

  • Jan 14, 2016
    Magnificent film about war that has anti-war messages which may seem somewhat simplistic today, but are presented in a cinematic way that is anything but so. For example, one could point to the wonderful shot in the beginning that shows German soldiers in the small town - the camera moves backwars and we find ourselves in a school where the teacher, instead of teaching Homer (as the first lines of Odyssey are written on the blackboard), makes a propaganda, ultra-patriotic speech that inspires the students to become soldiers. Here the transition of one plane to the other is beautiful and full of meaning. The cinematography is strikingly clear and makes excellent uses of contrasts of more than one planes throughout the film. The battle scenes are some of the best depicted on camera, at least from the other films I have seen. They are not at all overdramatized with fast montage and sensational camera angles as Hollywood tends to do, especially with more modern films (see Saving Private Ryan); on the contrary, with clear, long takes and tracking shots depicts the attacks and counterattacks of the two armies, making the peculiar madness of the WWI trenches battles a devastaing view. The only filmmaker I know who later followed similar techniques to depict war scenes was Kubrick in that other masterpiece, Paths of Glory. The performances are all excellent. The narrative rhythm of the film might seem problematic at first but it is not if one understands that it comes in chapters, and individual episodes instead of a single escalating crescendo. These indivudual episodes are excellently paced themselves. The film shows true feeling and compassion for its characters, who fight a war they know nothing about. The unpatriotic politics behind the film are subversive enough to make the film count as an oddity in American cinema. On the surface the feilm may look as if it wants to promote a cheap humanism, but that is never the case when we examine the individual, rich episodes in meaning and conflict the heroes are dealing with. For example, when the protagonist kills a French soldier and stays in a crater wih him for a whole day, he feels guilty. When his older fellow after the event tells him not to think about it - it was not his fault and such things, he seems to accept it easily as a consolation and erase his own agency from the event. Such events highlight the characters' faults and do not present them only as innocents caught in a bad war.
    George M Super Reviewer
  • Jul 05, 2014
    A classic anti war film, All Quiet on the Western Front is a masterwork of filmmaking. Over 80 years after its release, the film is still very effective, and ranks among the genres finest works. With stunning performances from its cast, the film occur during the First World War, and it shows us the chaos, and considering the fact that this was made in 1930, it's an impressive feat in filmmaking, as what we have here is a picture that captures the fear and agony of combat, and it's a well made movie for its time, and it still looks great after all these years. What stands out with the film is the superb direction from director Lewis Milestone, who captures every moment on camera and does so in away where you're plunged directly into the action and terror of the war. War films are always tricky to do, a lot of them inaccurate, overdone, and it lacks the effectiveness of capturing War carnage on camera by overdoing IT. However here, since this was made in the early days of cinema, All Quiet on the Western Front delivers a straight to the point story with subtlety and it is an engaging and captivating viewing experience. This film is the definitive WWI picture, with great direction, well done effects and memorable performances, this one gets it right. The film does a fine job at presenting the facts, and with that being said, it's a genre classic that is a must watch for war or history enthusiasts,. The film's message really sets this film apart. With the way that it tackles its subject, All Quiet on the Western Front gives you that anti war message without overdoing anything, and that's what's great about this. This is a movie that is horrifying in the way that shows young men torn apart by the horrors of war, but it does so in a very tasteful way. Remember that the war to end all war ended in 1918, and this picture was made 12 years later, still fresh in people's minds. This is a flawless picture, one that stands among the most powerful genre pictures ever made as well as a defining cinematic accomplishment.
    Alex r Super Reviewer
  • Oct 21, 2013
    A group of German schoolboys enlists to serve in the Great War. As vital, disturbing, and powerful now as it was when it was written and filmed, All Quiet on the Western Front is an excellent film about war and both its inhumanity -- the moments when people are turned into monsters and pawns -- and its humanity -- the moments when despite the contexts people attempt to regain their decency. Very few war films are able to conflate so much of war's aspects. The film also serves as a visual representation of much of the poetry that came out of WWI. "Dulce et Decorum Est" by Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon's poems are reminiscent of this film, or vice versa. I particularly liked the scene in which soldiers, one of them pretending to be the kaiser, debate the necessities of war in a conversation that is wise in its simplicity. The final scene get a little maudlin; there's a line where a film deserves its sentimentality, I think this film dances around it. Overall, this is a profoundly effective war film that rivals anything current.
    Jim H Super Reviewer
  • Dec 04, 2012
    Whilst gritty but not gruesome, All Quiet on the Western Front is a raw portrayal of trench warfare that serves to dispel any notions romanticizing war. War is dirty, confusing, and the men (and women, now) who fight them come back changed people.
    Jeff L Super Reviewer

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