“90 years after its publication, the book still hasn’t lost any of its impact”: Daniel Brühl, Albrecht Schuch and Edward Berger on All Quiet on the Western Front
After a stint in UK cinemas, Edward Berger’s All Quiet on the Western Front comes to Netflix this autumn. His film is by no means the first screen adaption of Erich Maria Remarque’s 1929 renowned anti-war novel – a Hollywood version from Lewis Milestone in 1930 won two Academy Awards (and was banned by the Nazis along with the book) and 1979 saw a television movie from Delbert Mann – but it is the first in the book’s original language of German.
By bearing witness to the harrowing reality of trench warfare from the German perspective, the film strips all sense of heroism from proceedings: all deaths are barbaric and tragic, no matter what side of no man’s land they happen on. Berger’s approach to authenticity also extends to the level of dedication to recreating each scene with period accuracy, down to the buttons on the uniforms on the soldier’s backs, and the colossal scale of the mud-drenched battlefields and rat-infested trenches. With conflict raging in Ukraine as we speak, no poignancy should be lost in relentlessly hammering home the absolute futility and inhumanity of war, which this magnificently executed adaptation achieves with powerful precision.
The Upcoming had the pleasure of speaking with two of the stars, Daniel Brühl and Albrecht Schuch (who play German diplomat Matthias Erzberger and soldier Stanislaus “Kat” Katczinsky) about why they wanted to work with Berger on adapting the 1929 novel for a contemporary audience and in its original language for the first time. We also discussed how the German perspective affords the story no sentimentality, working with newcomer Felix Kammerer on a gruelling but worthwhile shoot, and how the film conveys the pointlessness of war.
We also spoke to the director about his journey to adapting the novel, his ambitious but uncompromising approach to capturing the period and reality of the First World War with authenticity, and casting a lesser-known face for the lead role of Paul Bäumer alongside veteran actors.
All Quiet on the Western Front is released in select UK cinemas on 14th October 2022 and available on Netflix on 28th October 2022. Read our review here.
Watch the trailer for All Quiet on the Western Front here: