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Timec's avatar



And what was Shakespeare thinking, giving all his Italian and Danish (and so on) characters poetic English dialogue? Man, very few productions of "Hamlet" even have the actors speaking with a Danish accent.

But seriously - that's not a flaw. In fact, considering that the movie was made for an American audience, it was actually a very smart move to have them talk in English and without accents. Like it or not, foreign languages are a barrier to understanding and empathy for many people, and a decision to shoot this in German would have made the film less powerful than it is. By speaking English, audiences who might reject subtitled films were forced to empathize with a group that had been their enemy less than fifteen years earlier - by giving the characters everyday English dialogue it gave the impression that these people were, indeed, quite human, and that, in most cases, they weren't all that different than the average American in the audience. They had the same concerns, the same fears, the same hopes...

It does get more tricky when different characters would, in reality, be speaking different languages (that is to say, if we had an English soldier and a German soldier among the main characters) - but since that's not the case here, it's entirely reasonable that the characters speak English, as we the audience are given insight, are made witness of a world and experience that we may otherwise never have known.

In other words, having foreign characters speaking something other than their native language is an entirely acceptable stylistic device, one that had been established for a long, long time before film even came around. That device is used to brilliant effect here.

So a dogmatic "Oh no, they're speaking something other than their native language and that ruins the film" approach is entirely wrongheaded, and will lead you to reject some of the greatest films of all time (as well as some of the greatest works of theater, opera, and literature.) Those looking for that sort of verisimilitude are going to want to turn to something other than film, or literature, or theater, or pretty much any art form that contains the spoken word.
10 years 8 months ago
Fluegi's avatar


The mother of all anti-war movies and probably one of the best. Very intensive.
7 years 5 months ago
jacktrewin's avatar


spielberg made saving private ryan but i take your point abmannetje, the battle scenes are unbelievable considering the year it was made it 1930, 68 years before saving private ryan and 27 before paths of glory.
10 years 5 months ago
Warrison's avatar


An extremely powerful movie that is as relevant today as it was then.

It astonishes me that this movie is 85 years old and counting.
6 years 7 months ago
Camille Deadpan's avatar

Camille Deadpan

This movie reminded me of what Stefan Zweig mentioned about WWI in his Die Welt von Gestern (1942). The movie is so sad and shocking and realistic and so amazing. Also it left me speechless.
8 years 2 months ago
V012's avatar


As haunting as the book. The last two shots were iconic.
Arthur Gardener, who played a student in this film was the last living member of the cast or crew until December 19th, 2014 when he passed away at 104.
6 years 11 months ago
jacktrewin's avatar


its not often you see such a personal war film with such well developed characters
10 years 5 months ago
Mhrass's avatar


Oh boy, the ending!!!
7 years 4 months ago
Marazmatique's avatar


Is it so unthinkably difficult to perceive the "English speaking Germans" as though they're simply dubbed?
9 years 2 months ago
satyrvs's avatar


2nd half of the film is quite good. Liked the ending
10 years 9 months ago
Groovy09's avatar


It's dated in some areas sure, but it truly is one of the greatest anti-war films ever made and still manages to give the viewer an effective outlook on the brutality and terror of WW1, even over 80 years later since it's original release.
5 years 6 months ago
Sir_Byzantium's avatar


An extremely powerful ending, it summarizes the meanings and the themes of the movie quite nicely.
10 years 7 months ago
Siskoid's avatar


Arguably the first big anti-war war movie, 1930's All Quiet on the Western Front is still an effective WWI epic today even if we've since had a dozens and dozens examples of the genre. Showing the German side with no real attempts at Europeanized accents has two effects. One is that universalizes war - these could be our boys, anyone's boys - the other is that their side was historically doomed to fail, propaganda's triumphalism need not apply. Through its gritty realism, it achieves several memorable moments worth the wait, like the well-produced battles, the tale of the cursed boots, the protagonist spending the night in a fox hole with a wounded Frenchman (up until then, the enemy had been a backlit and faceless horde), and that gut punch of an ending. Having been made in the pre-Code days means it has an extra edge too. There are two that personally prevent me from giving it the highest of ratings though. One is that it has sound problems; the volume is rather low and there's a lot of hissing on the track, even in the restored version (which is visually impeccable). The other is lead actor Lew Ayres, whose theatrical style (and dialog that sounds written, probably pulled verbatim from the book) is at odds with the film's bleak realism. But even so, I can respect the achievement.
3 years ago
Panunzio's avatar


While it's very difficult for the film to match the quality and tone of the source novel, this is still essential viewing. The battle scenes are incredibly well-done and far ahead of their time.
4 years 5 months ago
Carota's avatar


7 years 5 months ago

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