All Quiet on the Western Front 1979 TV Version

I am not immediately against a movie just because it is a remake. I think that in some cases, even when it isn’t necessarily better or as good as the original, it can add something. It is interesting to see how someone else interprets scenes, how they are altered or accentuated. All this is just to tell you that I wasn’t biased when I watch the TV version of All Quiet on the Western Front. After having watched it, I am not even disappointed as I didn’t expect anything. No, I’m not disappointed, I’m horrified. This is a shockingly bad movie that manages to take the depth out of all the profound scenes that you can see in the original. The filming is oddly tacky and the acting is so bad that I was wondering if the actual aim wasn’t a parody. I have hardly ever seen so many people die in such a melodramatic way outside of an opera stage. I was surprised the actors weren’t holding banners stating “I’m dead”  at the end of each scene. How ostentatious should you be? Unless you want to make your public feel like total idiots subtlety would be what you should strive for. This message seems to have been lost on the director. What I can really not forgive is how a scene like that fabulous “boots scene” was altered to total insignificance.

I must at least say one good thing, Ernest Borgnine as Kat and Ian Holm as  Himmelstoss were convincing. And all the others? It was quite daring to cast Richard Thomas as Paul Bäumer but to have him do so many voice overs reminiscent of his time as John-Boy…Bah.

If you care to see a movie of All Quiet on the Western Front stick with Lewis Milestone’s 1930 original. It truly is a masterpiece. If you are not into silent movie feel or very old movies you will have to wait for the next remake which is due in 2012 starring Daniel Radcliffe (no, it isn’t a convincing choice). Hopefully it will be much better than what I had to endure last night.

For those of you who still want to know what it is all about here’s a very brief summary:

Based on Erich Maria Remarque’s outstanding eponymous novel, All Quiet on the Western Front shows how an enthusiastic young German school boy volunteers to participate in WWI. Once he ‘s in the trenches and experiences the horror of trench warfare and sees his friends die all around him, he soon faces utter disillusionment.

Rating? Do I have to? 2/5 But only because I am kind.

Here are my thoughts on To Remake or not to Remake

Here is a short scene. It is rather one of the better ones.


4 thoughts on “All Quiet on the Western Front 1979 TV Version

  1. warmoviebuff says:

    Wow, we will have to agree to disagree on this one. I actually am fond of this movie. I show it in my Military History class instead of the original. (I have tried both). Today’s teenagers do not like the Milestone version. They do not care that it is a classic and the filmmaking was awesome for the 1920’s.
    My perspective is the new version is pretty good for the limited budget they had to work with. For this reason, the battle scenes are inferior to the original. But the story is not so much about battles as the way the war effected young men. I personnaly believe the newer version has more realistic acting. You can argue as to why the 1920s actors acted the way they did, but it does not change the fact that they grossly overacted and they are not impressive to modern audiences. Contrast the iconic scene of Paul in the shell crater with the Frenchman he had stabbed. Thomas’ performance is more credible than Ayres’. My students laughed at Ayres melodramatic histrionics.
    I guess I would have to conclude by saying that although I am not a big fan of remakes, based on my interaction with high school students, the modern TV remake of the great book served the purpose of acquainting a new generation with the story when there is little chance they would watch an old black and white movie no matter that adults think it is a classic.

    • I did find the acting in the shell crater in the remake particularly bad. I would argue that the actors in Milestone’s movie knew they overacted but those in the remake thought they did well. It actually made me laugh. I have seen how hight the ratings are on IMdB. And many of those who commented were American students…. I leave this to the interpretation of whoever is in the mood to interpret. Maybe the point in the remake is to finally have a European version which would be a good thing. I think both endings are bad as too far from the book.

  2. warmoviebuff says:

    Our give and take would be boring if we agreed on everything.
    Any student who would comment on IMDB is not a typical American student. Trust me, a typical American student is turned off by any black and white movie. Disgusting.

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