If you haven’t seen “All Quiet on the Western Front,” you’re missing out. The German film, an adaptation of the French novel, is directed by Edward Berger and was released late last year on Netflix. Warning: it’s rated R because of extreme war violence.
I’ve been watching it in parts this week, a half-hour here, an hour there, not just because it’s a long movie — which, at two and a half hours, it certainly is. But the movie depicts World War I in such shocking and barbaric terms that it’s hard not to look away. The film seems intent on showing the full horror of war and not letting you forget it.
Over 9 million soldiers and more than 5 million civilians died during World War I, which lasted from 1914 until 1918. More than 116,000 Americans perished. And it wasn’t just the scale of death that marked the conflict; it was the horrors of poison gas, tanks and flamethrowers, and the insane carnage of trench warfare, where millions of soldiers ran straight into the fire of automatic weapons. The National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City provides a powerful and informative understanding of the war’s tragedy.