"ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT"
Lewis Milestone’s classic war film emerged in 1930, just at the end of the upheaval from silent to talking film. In order to present the movie at cinemas that hadn’t yet made the transition to talkies, Universal produced a silent version that should by no means be understood as a byproduct. The silent version reveals aesthetic differences that mostly result from the technical standard of the time. The camera, relieved of the heavy apparatuses needed for talking film, floats fluidly through cinematic space. The silent version also includes scenes left out of the talking film.
The music: "The music for this movie resides somewhere between Alban Berg and Miles Davis on the one hand and Maurice Ravel and Frank Zappa on the other, a cross-over in which different styles interpenetrate and recombine into something new. A serious, humanistic tone that is packed with cinematic action permeates the entire score: a great, heated regret over what is happening. Yet it is all paired with humorous echoes of jazz and impressionist emotional scenes. The music consistently retreats into a distanced consciousness and accords the film another existential level." (Manfred Knaak)
The story: The young high school student Paul Bäumer voluntarily enrolls himself in the army after his teacher gives a heated lecture glorifying heroic death for the fatherland. Along with his classmates, he makes the move from the schoolroom to the frontlines of the First World War, where he experiences the death of his friends and the breakdown of his youth from the unimaginable terror of the trenches. At the end of the film, Paul is shot by a French sharpshooter when he leaves his post to chase after a butterfly that has alighted on a machine gun.