Edward Berger’s Netflix title, All Quiet on the Western Front, has secured a record number of Bafta nominations for the categories it was eligible. This included Best Film, Best Director, and Best Supporting Actor (Albrecht Schuch).
It is the first movie to clinch 14 or more Bafta nods since The King’s Speech in 2011 and the only other foreign-language feature to ever receive as many nominations are Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, which went on to win four awards in 2001.
All Quiet on the Western Front is set during World War I and is about combat from trenches as opposed to what we have seen in later conflicts. The film is about two-and-a-half hours of dramatic minimalism. The war scenes cut into peace talks as the German Vice-Chancellor tries to talk peace with the French military generals. They have given the German Army a real good contest, bringing it to its knees.
The talks are one-sided, though we must appreciate the “never-say-die” attitude of the German officers.
A Variety review says: Stanley Kubrick, with “Paths of Glory,” made what is still the greatest movie about trench warfare, and he wasn’t shy about involving us in actual drama. “All Quiet on the Western Front” lumbers along so that even once the armistice is struck there’s still another combat episode, all to demonstrate, with overly highlighted tragic irony, that the body count in World War I kept escalating for no reason. Anyone sane would agree with that. Yet “All Quiet on the Western Front” is the war movie as a thesis statement. It keeps making its point, leaving you less shattered than empty.
All Quiet on the Western Front is based on a 1928 book about a war that was fought in filth, vermin, and desperation more than 100 years ago. It is a brutal look at how innocent lives are lost because of the huge egos that governments nurture and revel in. It is also about the arrogance of military generals. Finally, it is about the fire of revenge.
Some years after WWI, Germany under Adolf Hitler wanted to score even for the humiliation it was made to suffer earlier. Millions of people lost their lives or were maimed in World War II. Finally, Germany lost and Hitler shot himself.
Has the world learned a lesson? Hardly, I would say. India and Pakistan fought three wars, and it is only the other day that the Pakistani administration said that wars were futile and merely pulled the country down. One can only hope that better sense would prevail among Pak Generals.
(The views expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author.)
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