All Quiet on the Western Front is over eighty years old now but remains one of the greatest anti-war war movies ever made. The film won both a Best Picture and Best Director Oscar in 1930 at the 3rd Academy Awards and its reputation has grown steadily ever since. The film has found a place in the AFI’s Top 100 Movies list and on IMDb’s Top 250 and probably deserves those honours as well as the many other plaudits which are thrown its way. For me the film has aged extremely well in general and apart from some sound problems and the occasional bad acting it is amongst the best films I’ve seen from the period and one of the best war movies ever.
At the outbreak of the First World War a German professor is delivering an impassioned speech to his students about the honour of serving ones country in battle. As his students listen on in awe they enthusiastically enlist en masse as many schools, universities and factories did. After a brief training camp where they soon discover that army life isn’t all fun and games the men head into battle on the Western Front. Over the four years of the war their number dwindles until the film begins to focus on the story of just a couple as well as the veterans they join. It becomes apparent to those who last long enough that they are fighting for nothing and all who survive become disheartened by the war as well as the attitude from home.