All Quiet on the Western Front
Analysis of historical accuracy in the 1978 television production
The 1979 film, All Quiet on the Western Front, is based on the 1929 novel by World War I German veteran, Erich Maria Remarque. The narrative portrays the nature of WWI from the perspective of a young German boy from his enlistment and deployment to the Western Front in 1916. It explores many concepts of the war including trench warfare, total war, and the overall long term mental and physical effects of war. Minus minor flaws where minimal information is given, the film appears to be a historically accurate portrayal of Trench Warfare and Total War.
The film accurately portrays major ...view middle of the document...
The film’s battle scenes show mass killings on both sides with no movement, accurately presenting the stalemate of the Western Front. As the war progressed, tanks were developed and introduced onto the front which too is presented in the latter part of the film. All Quiet on the Western Front highlights the horrific nature of gas warfare and the suffering and helplessness of those affected by it in the scene where the trench is attacked and cleared however, a new recruit falls back down and one breath was enough to induce his terrifying and hopeless death.
The film also accurately reveals some of the effects the war had on resources. The depiction of people on stretchers everywhere in the hospitals and many even outside, as well as the doctors speaking telling of how many amputations they’d already performed that day shows how overwhelmed the hospitals were on the Front. The lack of painkillers for Paul’s friend during his amputation also depicts how overwhelmed and depleted the hospitals were becoming as the war went on. As the war progressed, the new recruits were shown to get younger and younger. At the time, the German military was becoming desperate as the bulk of their able bodied men had already perished in the war effort. The film shows the soldiers constantly hungry and seeking more food which is known to be historically accurate as food was scarce on both the battle field and on the Home Front. When Paul returns home on leave he also visits his old school teacher and the defeatism that is shown in the new class of boys and their hesitance to enlist, unlike his own class earlier in the war, is historically accurate as the news of the horrors of the battle field reached the Home Front many were discouraged and feeling defeated. The way Paul speaks to his teacher on his visit is in stark contrast to the respect he showed prior to his service. This dilution of respect for authority is also seen in the scene in which his trainer from the training camp arrives at the Front and the boys refuse to salute him and they laugh in his face and mock him; their survival instincts are their new guidance. It is historically accurate that there were breaks in between battles, and soldiers were given leave between their trench services. The film portrays this in scenes such as where the boys are swimming in the river where they meet the French girls, and when Paul returns home. The nature of burial for those soldiers that were retrieved from “No Man’s Land” or who died in hospital, was shown in a scene were bodies were unceremoniously flung into huge pits for mass burial.
The First World War brought with it deeper long term issues for those that served. During a scene where bombardment is coming for days on end to the German side, a new recruit is shown covering his ears, mumbling to himself, and highly distressed, these are signs we can see of the mental effects of the war in the form of “Shell Shock”, which is now known as Post Traumatic Stress...