? Is It An Anti-War Film? Essay, Research Paper
All Quiet on the Western Front is based on a book by a German soldier who fought in World War 1. It follows the fate of a group of boys who joined in 1915.
The main hero of the film is Paul Balmer and we see the world through his eyes. In my essay I will use scenes to prove that this is an anti-war film.
One of the main themes of the film is the fact that people who weren?t fighting didn?t really know what it was like to fight in the trenches. Especially the old people encourage the young soldiers to fight; they are all desperate to be fighting and are quite jealous of their juniors.
At the start of the film we are introduced to the group of boys and we find them in a class. Their teacher is encouraging them to join up to the army and how that they would be doing the German fatherland proud. And when Paul comes home from the front because of his injury all that people talk about is the war. When he wants to go out, his father wants him to go in his uniform but he doesn?t want to go because he doesn?t want to be a killing machine any more he wants to be a normal person. When he does go out all people speak about is the war.
When the class does sign up they have to go through a terrible training exercise. The conditions are terrible and they have to crawl through mud and run for miles. They are taught to fight as a team and to be taught discipline. All this training doesn?t really prepare the soldiers for the harsh reality of the front line.
When it is time to leave, at the train station, the truth of war starts to become apparent to the young naive boys. They get a view of the injured people coming back from the front line. This shattered the idea they had that war was a game and that it was real life with real people.
When they do arrive they understand what the war is about. One of the first things that gets the soldiers is the sound of the horses. When the shells got fired they were landing near the horse and severely injuring someone of them. This made the horses screech and make a horrible sound as they died. This really did upset some of the soldiers and even at this early stage of the film some of the soldiers started to question the war. They wanted to know why the horse had to die, ?What have they done??
The film then skips a year and we see the terrible conditions that they have to live in and the advances of industries. There were dead people everywhere, on the battlefield and holding up the trenches, rats feeding on these bodies and getting to the size of cats and there are lice infesting everyone. There were new weapons and new, younger soldiers who weren?t prepared for these situations. Many soldiers died unnecessarily because of the newly discovered gas that lingered in the bottom of shell holes. You have to learn fast or die.
One of the largest anti-war scenes is about half way through the film when Paul is on night watch. There is an attack by several Frenchmen and one of them comes into the shell crater Paul was hiding in. He is forced to kill him or die himself. Paul stabs him but he does not kill him completely, the Frenchmen is left to die slowly. This really upsets Paul, as this is the first time he has had to kill someone one face to face rather than just shooting at an enemy. He washes his hands clean of the blood with mud rather than have the guilt on his hands. He cannot face the guilt of him murdering him and he can?t end the mans misery by killing him instead he tries to save him. Paul becomes very emotional and comes out with a speech ? Forgive me comrade, they want us to fight, but they never want us to know the enemy. If we threw away our weapons we could be brothers.? This brings out the fact that the soldiers were just killing machines being ordered about mindlessly by their superiors, why do they do it? Why do we have war, why can?t peace be made spearing millions of lives?
Kap says, ?Is it a mountain of France fighting a mountain in Germany?? He doesn?t understand why people are fighting, he knew some French people and he liked them, they were just like anyone ales he knew. To be a good soldier, in Kaps opinion, is to die. War is meaning less and kills and affects everyone. People are dying all the time and no one really cares, Shells kill Germans and French, they don not have a name on them.
The only time during the war that we actually see some emotion is between the French women and the German soldiers. This is the warm part of the film and shows that under the killing machines there is still some affections and people have the same needs.
Hospital isn?t very nice, it is more like a factory line, when someone dies they are moved and the next person gets the bed straight away. The Doctors and Nurses don?t have time to be upset; they have a job to do.
One of the most surprising things is that it was a big mistake for Paul to leave the frontline and go home to his family. No one understands what it is like on the frontline and Paul can?t tell anyone. He does try to write a letter to his Mum about his changes. Paul is no longer the nice boy who drew nice houses and plants but instead he is an evil killing machine who draws death and who?s family and home is in the trenches. His life is war. He goes to tell Karl?s mum and dooms himself. He tells her about Karl?s death but lies to her and says ?I swear on everything sacred to me.?
By the end of the war the soldiers are really young and their inexperience means they die quicker and younger people are needed to take their place. And so the vicious circle of death continuous, with thousands of parents losing their children.
The only good thing to come out of the war is the heroism and friendship of the people on the frontline. They will do anything for each other, including sacrificing their own life. By the end of the film though all the friends had gone. 13 ? Killed, 4 ? missing, 1 in a mad house, 1 Injured, 1 ok. Over the course of the war the friendship has been slowly killed, breaking down everyone and making Paul give up and smoke.
When Kap dies Paul is left to be the old hand in charge. With only a month to go though he dies because of hope and ?everything sacred to him?. He sees a bird and can?t resist drawing it. Although there is only a month left in the war, people are still dying needlessly even though the end is in site.
This film is definitely an anti-war film. It brings out all the bad points of war and how nobody knew what was going on and how people had to suffer. It also brings out the fact that there is no need for war; it is a pointless waste of human life. The only good thing that comes out of the war is the fact that people in the war depend on each other and need each other to survive.