At nearly a century old, the 1930 All Quiet on the Western Front remains a powerful film. But it's easy to forget, when watching Lewis Milestone's adaptation, that this is a German story.
In late October, Edward Berger's adaptation will be released. I expect his choice to make it in German will change how we see this story--perhaps getting us closer to the original novel. As Berger noted in a recent interview, his directorial choices spring from his fidelity to Erich Maria Remarque's original literary work--a chilling masterpiece that offers readers a lean, hard stare into the nihilism of battle.
I tend to be apprehensive of remakes, but I am eager to review this film. Berger's choices seem to carve a new space to portray the spirit of the original story in ways that the 1930 adaptation fell short. Fortunately for Berger, this adaptation is unlikely to spark street riots or national bans. But the specter of fascism, authoritarianism, and militant nationalism still haunts this world.
We have yet to learn the lessons of Remarque's anti-war novel, given our appetite for war. At least the viewing community has evolved to agree that this story deserves to be told and re-told until we finally heed its warning.