No news at the front (Im Westen nichts Neues) is a German novel written by Erich Maria Remarque and published in 1929. Shortly after publication, it was translated into twenty-six languages and it is estimated that it has sold more than twenty million copies throughout the world. The anti-war tone of the story, which the author himself did not consider political, was considered unpatriotic by the Nazis and the author settled in the United States from 1938, while his book was publicly burned in the streets of his country.
The book tells in the first person the story of a young German who volunteers at the First World War and his euphoria turns to horror as he discovers the truth about the war. After being published in the United States, it was made into a film in the production All Quiet in the Western Front (1930) directed by Lewis Milestone and starring Lew Ayres.
The film was one of the first winners of the Oscar for best film and also for best director. In 1979 another version was made, this time for television, starring Richard Thomas and directed by veteran Delbert Mann. This new version received the Golden Globe for best film for television.
Now finally comes a German version. After its author was banned and his citizenship was taken away, the great story returns to its country of origin, which makes sense since it is a plot set within the German army. It is understandable that a country thrown into genocidal fury, the book was rejected in the Germany of Adolf Hitler.
The film has a higher level of rawness than previous titles, although the spirit of the book is captured in the same way. It is not a remake, but a new adaptation of the novel. The First World War is a space of particular horror, although it is not unlike other wars, some characteristics make it cinematically attractive and chilling at the same time.
The 2022 version of No news at the frontpremiered in Netflix –although it deserves the big screen–, it is a huge production, the most expensive made in Germany for the service of streaming. It has also been sent by that country to be selected for the Oscar for best foreign film. felix kimmer He is chosen for the leading role. His Paul Bäumer begins with the bright and happy look of a young student who volunteers and ends with that face prematurely aged and dislocated by the war.
Paul’s transformation is reminiscent of the classic Soviet film Massacre: come and see (1985) by Elem Klimov. Although here we are facing a more classic film, the look of the protagonist seems to be a reference to the other film. Another curious fact is that American films seem to be more marked by metaphor than German films, in a striking reversal of styles.
The 1922 film opens with an announcement of tragedy and then launches into a memorable number of scenes that nonjudgmentally describe what it was like to fight in the trenches. Yes, his position is more evident when it comes to the controls. Perhaps the most shocking thing is that it is only the First War and that the world was still missing the Second. A memorable war film.