Why I’m skipping ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’

This new film adaptation of the 1929 novel by Erich Maria Remarque is generally receiving positive reviews by viewers and critics. According to Rotten Tomatoes, 91% of 142 critics’ reviews are positive, with an average rating of 8.3/10. The consensus is that the film is, “Both timely and timeless, All Quiet on the Western Front retains the power of its classic source material by focusing on the futility of war.” Wikipedia notes that “Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 76 out of 100, based on 36 critics, indicating “generally favorable reviews.”

From the trailers, the cinematography appears excellent and in your face, although some critics say the film missed “the essence” of the novel, and wondered if the filmmakers had read  Remarque’s book. Like the scenes of the D-Day landing in “Saving Private Ryan,” the horror of similarly realistic scenes in this movie will in some ways teach viewers just what war is. And, perhaps, move them to vote for people who don’t send our soldiers into that horror.

I’m skipping the movie because I read the book when I was too young for it–junior high school. I had PTSD nightmares for years afterward. I wish I could see the movie, but I’m not strong enough (I guess) to return to the venue of the novel. That book probably was one of the influences on my becoming a pacifist. Even so, I think we need such novels and feature films because they might turn more people away from the so-called honor of dying for one’s country or becoming a “hero” for going where nobody should ever have to go.

I think all the “honor and glory” the country lays at the feet of soldiers living and dead is bullshit. Movies like this remind us that death accomplishes nothing except grieving family members.


‘All Quiet’ wins 7 BAFTAs, including best film, at U.K. film awards ceremony


Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of anti-Klan ficition set in the Florida Panhandle in the 1950s, at present a four-book seires beginning with “Conjure Woman’s Cat.”