all-quiet-on-the-western-front-nov-14thTo mark, slightly in advance, the centenary of WW1, we screen this remarkable early sound film. Three German boys sign up to fight and we follow their story in the trenches. With stunning, Oscar-nominated, cinematography the story recounts the experience of every soldier deployed in this barbaric theatre of war. Some of the actors later became conscientious objectors when called to arms in WW2, which did not help their careers. “One of the most effective pacifist arguments ever committed to celluloid” – Jamie Russell, (Cert PG)
Dir: Lewis Milestone 130 mins USA 1930

Programme Notes

All Quiet on the Western Front
USA, 1930, 130 mins, Cert PG

The story is of Paul Bäumer and his friends, persuaded by his schoolteacher to enlist and do his bit for the fatherland. After which comes the reality of life – and death – at the front. Remarque’s novel was first published in installments in a Berlin newspaper in 1928 and then as a book in December 1929. It was an immediate international success with sales of 2.5 million (in 22 languages) in its first 18 months in print. The film followed soon afterwards and it, too, met with great commercial success. Remarque had been through similar experiences and candidly stated that he wrote the novel in order to overcome the psychological damage which his war had caused him. In his introduction he wrote:

“This book is to be neither an accusation nor a confession, and least of all an adventure, for death is not an adventure to those who stand face to face with it. It will try simply to tell of a generation of men who, even though they may have escaped shells, were destroyed by the war.”

In Germany the film was banned during the Nazi era; and it befell a similar fate in Australia (from 1930 – 1941); in Italy and in Austria (from 1931 until the 1980s); and in France until 1963. Ironically, producer Laemmle had agreed to substantial cuts, in order to get the film shown in Germany. (mb)

Paul – Lew Ayres
Kat – Louis Wolheim
Himmelstoss – John Wray
Kantorek – Arnold Lucy
Kemmerich – Ben Alexander
Leer – Scott Kolk
Peter – Owen Davis jnr
Behn – Walter Rogers
Albert – William Bakewell

Director – Lewis Milestone
Screenplay – Erich Maria Remarque & others
Cinematography – Arthur Edeson, Karl Freund
Editing – Edgar Adams, Edward L. Cahn
Art Direction – Charles D. Hall, William R. Schmidt
Producer – Carl Laemmle jnr


“Very moving – unmissable”

“An exquisite piece of cinematic history and technically innovative for its era. Deserves several viewings to fully appreciate this powerful story.”

“An amazing film for its time. It is as relevant now as it ever was.”

“It still carried the same impact as it did when I first saw it in the 50s.”

“Still as powerful viewing this film again after a gap of 45 years!”

“Shocking! I’m just grateful that the book was written and then this film made.”

“And then they went and did it all again in 1939!”

“Very powerful – but I’ve no wish to see it again.”

“Better than an 80yo film has any right to be but it was still WW1, the Hollywood version.”

“Having seen the last 20secs many times, it was very good to see the whole film!”

“Relentless – but sound bad”


A:33, B:5, C:3, D:1, E:0 to give 92%