All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)

all quiet on the western front poster 1930 movie
8.5 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 9/10

Early war film, interesting storytelling

Long, so-so acting

Movie Info

Movie Name:  All Quiet on the Western Front

Studio:  Universal Studios

Genre(s):  War/Drama

Release Date(s):  April 21, 1930

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated


I’m just trying not to look at your nose…

When a class of young Germans learn that they are needed to help turn the tide of war, they eagerly volunteer to join the ranks.  Unfortunately, war is hell and the young men are about to learn it for themselves.  Suffering daily barrages of bombs, death, and hunger, Paul Bäumer (Lew Ayres) and his classmates find themselves fighting not for their country but for life.  With the help of a combat veteran named Stanislaus Katczinsky (Louis Wolheim), Paul is about to find out the picture painted of war isn’t what he was led to believe.


They keep sending them out and we keep mowing them down

Directed by Lewis Milestone, All Quiet on the Western Front adapts the famous 1929 novel by Erich Maria Remarque.  The movie’s portrayal of war and violence did receive criticism and faced bans in various countries (including Germany) due to the political nature of the story’s message.  The movie won Best Picture (still called Outstanding Production at this point) and Best Director and was nominated for Best Writing and Best Cinematography in the 3rd Academy Awards.  The movie was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry.


Wow, they’re right…dead men don’t speak?

I’m not a big war picture fan.  I feel they generally break down in to anti-war (as in this film) or pro-war.  This is one of the better anti-war outings in that it gives a lot of aspects of the story.  Much like the original novel it also is effective in that it targets the youth (like Platoon) since they are generally the ones most affected.

The movie plays out as how war can change a person.  People who volunteer don’t understand the ramifications (intentionally) and are led to believe that they are doing something heroic.  Here the characters that manage to survive the first wave of horror then face starvation and must become killers…something that cannot be undone.  The movie looks at how this not only steals their childhood but hot it isn’t understood by the men sending them off to battle.  They are simply tools of the country…and this is the obvious reasons that Nazi Germany objected to this film (and the novel).


Bummer that you’re dying…can I have your boots?

The acting is kind of flat unfortunately.  Like many war pictures, the movie doesn’t have much time to develop the supporting characters and Lew Ayers seems to struggle a bit with the role which is awful big.  I do like the broken nosed Louis Wolheim as the wise war weary Stanislaus Katczinsky (though it is obvious what his fate will be).

The movie also looks pretty good for the time.  Today’s viewers might be pretty jaded when compared to big explosive films like Saving Private Ryan, but the movie still does have some bite.  The trench warfare looks good, but also scenes like the soldiers swimming and flirting with French women also look great in its camera work and style.

All Quiet on the Western Front is one of the best early war films.  The novel and the movie was followed by a sequel which dealt more with coming home from war and was titled The Road BackThe Road Back was released in 1937 and faced similar bans due to World War II erupting in Europe.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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