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FEATURED MOVIE REVIEW: All Quiet on the Western Front
Linda Oppelt

FEATURED MOVIE REVIEW: All Quiet on the Western Front

By John Mulderig/CATHOLIC REVIEW MEDIA

NEW YORK. German author and World War I veteran Erich Maria Remarque’s classic novel “All Quiet on the Western Front” first appeared in serialized form in 1928. Published as a book the following year, his tale became a runaway bestseller, not only in Germany but around the globe as well.

As for Hollywood’s 1930 screen version, helmed by Lewis Milestone, it was the first such adaptation to win the Academy Award for Best Picture (then termed “for Outstanding Production”). Delbert Mann’s 1979 made-for-TV film — a joint British and American project that featured a high-profile cast — was also lauded, receiving both a Golden Globe and an Emmy.

Four-and-a-half decades on, director and co-writer Edward Berger’s eponymous production is streaming on Netflix (rated R). While viewers of faith will welcome the pacific theme of his movie, as inherited from Remarque, they should be aware, going in, that it details the horrors of trench-based combat unsparingly.

As the action kicks off in the spring of 1917, high school student Paul Bäumer (Felix Kammerer) and his circle of friends are swept up in patriotic fervor and rashly enlist in the German Army. Their naïve enthusiasm is quickly transformed into terror and misery, however, by the conditions they encounter on the battlefield.

As they strive to adjust to their horrifying new environment, Paul and his buddies receive guidance from a seasoned and cynical comrade, Stanislaus “Kat” Katczinsky (Albrecht Schuch). And, in fact, by the time the storyline fast-forwards 18 months to the last days of the struggle, the lads themselves have become hardened.

Even as peace approaches, though, the soldiers remain pawns in the hands of their nation’s divided leaders. Thus, although some politicians — personified here by Centre Party leader Matthias Erzberger (Daniel Brühl) — gradually accept the need for an armistice, pampered and fanatical Gen. Friedrich (Devid Striesow), under whom Paul serves, remains determined to keep his men fighting to the bitter end.

The script, which Berger penned with Lesley Paterson and Ian Stokell, emphasizes the stark lesson Paul learns about the shared humanity of warriors on both sides of the conflict. But it also showcases as a token of the civilized life he and his pals have left behind — and to which they naturally long to return — a perfumed scarf obtained during a casual liaison with a local Frenchwoman.

Perhaps Remarque’s work, overall, has become a victim of its own success. At this remove, Paul comes across more as an archetype than an individual while his creator’s anti-war message has been echoed so often that it feels hackneyed. 

Still, those grown viewers willing to immerse themselves in the madness against which Remarque so powerfully protested will find affecting moments to cherish amid the squalid slaughter.

In German. Subtitles or dubbed into English.

Look for: Values in harmony with Christian teaching. Look out for: Harshly explicit war violence with much gore, grisly images, offscreen but benignly presented nonmarital sexual activity, mature references, a couple of profanities, about a half-dozen milder oaths, fleeting rough language and several crude and crass terms. The Catholic Moviegoer’s guidance is L — suitable for a limited mature audience.  
(Formerly a staff member for Catholic News Service, John Mulderig has been reviewing visual media from a Catholic perspective for 15 years. His column is syndicated by Catholic Review Media. Follow his reviews on Twitter.com/CatholicMovie.)
 

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HERALD HEADLINES

FEATURED MOVIE REVIEW: All Quiet on the Western Front

By John Mulderig/CATHOLIC REVIEW MEDIA

Linda Oppelt 0 52 Article rating: 1.0

NEW YORK. German author and World War I veteran Erich Maria Remarque’s classic novel “All Quiet on the Western Front” first appeared in serialized form in 1928. Published as a book the following year, his tale became a runaway bestseller, not only in Germany but around the globe as well.

BLESSINGS IN BLOOM: Winter Birds

Linda Oppelt 0 40 Article rating: 1.0

Not all birds fly south! Watching beautiful birds during the winter months can be very entertaining. We are fortunate, in our diocese, to have birds year-round. This time of year, as the temperatures drop, they are busy foraging for food and seeking out water. Here are a few tips to help encourage our feathered friends to stick around for a while and survive the cold weather. 

THE BISHOP'S CROZIER: The Two Parts of Advent

By Bishop James R. Golka

Linda Oppelt 0 202 Article rating: 1.0

On the evening of Nov. 26, the Church throughout the world will usher in the season of Advent and the beginning of a new Church year. It is important to remember that there are two parts of Advent.  These two parts have very distinct meanings. 

Watch Bishop Golka's Reflection video on the first week of Advent: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QHy78lLo_GQ

Revive Alive - The Eucharistic Revival in the Diocese of Colorado Springs

Linda Oppelt 0 92 Article rating: 1.0

It is also called the “Holy Mass (Missa), because the liturgy in which the mystery of salvation is accomplished concludes with the sending forth (missio) of the faithful, so that they may fulfill God’s will in their daily lives.”  
 — Catechism of the Catholic Church, No.  1332

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