All Quiet on the Western Front makes a powerful anti-war statement, but ultimately detracts from the impact of the novel

by Gordon Shelly

The 2022 German-made version of All Quiet on the Western Front is a nearly exceptional film. The movie is based on the 1929 novel by author Erich Maria Remarque, and is the first to be done in the German language.

We are given the German point of view of World War I and trench warfare. It is largely an anti-war message that looks closely at senseless death on the battlefield, PTSD, and the seemingly pointlessness of large scale wars.

The story follows 17-year-old Paul Bäumer (Felix Kammerer) who, overcome with German patriotism, enlists in the army in the hopes of fighting on the frontlines. He and a group of childhood friends join together inspired by a false sense of purpose and patriotism. Paul’s wartime journey begins in the spring of 19i7 and concludes in November of 1918, near the end of the war.

Paul and his friends experience battle after nameless battle, all of which seem of the same meaningless importance, but each ending with an abundance of dead bodies.

The movie does an incredible job of capturing the nature and disparity of war. Paul and his friends joined the army with patriotic idealism but soon realize the horrors of war and question the purpose of their endeavor.

The movie does introduce an additional storyline about peace talks and takes a few liberties with character development and outcomes.

However, the greatest flaw in the movie comes with its departure from the ending of the novel and the tie-in with the importance of the title itself.


In the novel, Paul loses all hope and, due to his PTSD, realizes he can never survive in the normal world. He ultimately succumbs to his will, accepting that he will die in the war. On a peaceful day that has been declared “all quiet,” Paul is killed under circumstances without consequence.

The conclusion of the 2022 movie is very different in this regard and essentially detracts from the ultimate power of the novel and devalues the meaning behind the title.

Gordon’s Grade: B+