Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.

“And our bodies are earth. And our thoughts are clay. And we sleep and eat with death”.

All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) – director Lewis Milestone

“This story is neither an accusation nor a confession, and least of all an adventure, for death is not an adventure to those who stand face to face with it. It will try simply to tell of a generation of men who, even though they may have escaped its shells, were destroyed by the war…” (Opening prologue.)

The relevance of All Quiet On The Western Front is as important today as it was back in 1930. There is a duty to remember the dead, and the survivors, but this deep scar in the world, the First World War, should have taught our people to steer clear from inglorious wars. (Since then, there hasn’t been a single day of peace, there is always some conflict going on somewhere…)

The film is anti-war without a doubt. In the final scene a hand reaches for a butterfly, an allegory of trying to attain peace, which, cynically is literally shot dead. This is more affective and just as raw as a scene of brutal hand-to-hand combat in a trench. A call for pacifism never ran so starkly and so truly.

Favorite Quotes:

“I’ll tell ya how it should all be done. Whenever there’s a big war comin’ on, you should rope off a big field (and sell tickets). Yeah, and, and, on the big day, you should take all the kings and their cabinets and their generals, put them in the center dressed in their underpants and let ’em fight it out with clubs. The best country wins.”

“I think it’s more a kind of fever. Nobody wants it in particular, and then all at once, there it is.”

“Up at the front you’re alive or you’re dead and that’s all. You can’t fool anybody about that very long. And up there we know we’re lost and done for whether we’re dead or alive.”

“They never taught us really useful things like how to light a cigarette in the wind, or make a fire out of wet wood, or bayonet a man in the belly instead of the ribs where it gets jammed.”

“War isn’t the way it looks back here.”

“I can’t say anything…I can’t tell you anything you don’t know. We live in the trenches out there. We fight. We try not to be killed; sometimes we are. That’s all… I’ve been there! I know what it’s like…. I heard you in here reciting that same old stuff, making more iron men, more young heroes. You still think it’s beautiful and sweet to die for your country, don’t you? We used to think you knew. The first bombardment taught us better. It’s dirty and painful to die for your country. When it comes to dying for your country, it’s better not to die at all. There are millions out there dying for their countries, and what good is it?…You asked me to tell them how much they’re needed out there. He tells you, ‘Go out and die.’ Oh, but if you’ll pardon me, it’s easier to say ‘go out and die’ than it is to do it….And it’s easier to say it than to watch it happen…”


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