Netflix has released the trailer for its German-language adaption of the 1929 novel, All Quiet on the Western Front. Set to debut at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) on September 12, 2022, the film follows the events detailed in the famous novel by author and veteran, Erich Maria Remarque.
Remarque based the events of All Quiet on the Western Front on his own experiences as a soldier in the Imperial German Army. The book is considered one of the greatest war novels ever released, due to its realistic portrayal of trench warfare during the First World War.
It tells the story of Paul Bäumer, a young German who joins in the army with his fellow classmates. At the time of his enlistment, he is naïve to what he’ll encounter, expecting adventure. However, upon arriving on the Western Front, Bäumer is exposed to the true horrors of trench warfare, including starvation, death, shell shock and disease.
Surviving the war, the battle-hardened soldier is left with the psychological scars of what he witnessed and winds up feeling like an outsider in his own country.
Remarque knew how to describe the realities of trench warfare because he himself was conscripted into the Imperial German Army during the First World War. He served on the Western Front with the 2nd Company Reserves, Field Depot, 2nd Guards Reserve Division, before being posted to the 15th Reserve Infantry Regiment, 2nd Company, Engineer Platoon Bethe.
While fighting in the trenches between Houthulst and Torhout, in Belgium, Remarque’s left leg, neck and right arm were wounded by shrapnel, resulting in him being evacuated to an army hospital in Germany, where he spent the remainder of the conflict.
All Quiet on the Western Front is widely considered to be an anti-war novel. It and its sequel, 1930’s The Road Back, were among the books targeted by the German government in 1933, with officials making it illegal to own copies of both.
The German-language Netflix adaption of the novel was written by director Edward Berger, along with producers Ian Stokell and Lesley Paterson. Newcomer Felix Kammerer stars at Bäumer, alongside Albrecht Schuch as Stanislaus “Kat” Katczinsky. Spanish-German actor Daniel Brühl (Rush, Captain America: Civil War) will star as Matthias Erzberger, a German diplomat charged with negotiating Germany’s surrender in the final days of the war.
Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, Berger shared that he aimed to show WWI through the eyes of a German, saying, “I watch a lot of American and English films, as we all do, and occasionally there is a war movie or even an anti-war movie among them. And I find them extremely entertaining.
“But I feel they never show my perspective, the perspective I have as a German. Not that of America, that saved Europe from fascism, or England, which was attacked and drawn into a war against their will, those soldiers returned home, certainly traumatized and psychologically broken, but celebrated as heroes, [where] the war is an event that enters the national psyche as something that the society is in part proud of.
“For us, it’s the exact opposite. In our national psyche, there is nothing but guilt, horror, terror and destruction,” he concluded.
All Quiet on the Western Front is Germany’s submission for consideration for Best International Feature Film at the 2023 Academy Awards. The 1930 adaption of the book, directed by Lewis Milestone, won the Oscars for Best Picture and Best Director at the Third Academy Awards.
CBS also filmed a television movie adaption of the novel, starring Richard Thomas and Delbert Mann. The feature won an Emmy for Outstanding Film Editing for a Limited Series or a Special, as well as the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture Made for Television.
All Quiet on the Western Front will see a limited theater release in Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States following its premiere at TIFF. The film is slated for release on Netflix on October 28, 2022.