All Quiet on the Western Front has proven to be among those rare breakthroughs in cinema, emerging as one of the standout films of 2022. Edward Berger’s anti-war gem is gaining some serious traction in the latest awards campaign, winning seven major prizes at this year’s edition of the BAFTAs.
A brilliant adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque’s eponymous novel, All Quiet on the Western Front does a fantastic job of highlighting the unimaginable misery of the first World War. It follows the trajectory of an ambitious young German soldier who enlists in the war to earn glory. However, the reality of the war and the brutality of the landscape change his psychological constitution in unimaginable ways. Berger’s latest project has become one of the favourites to win the Academy Award for ‘Best Picture’.
During a conversation with Deadline, Berger explained that the film’s visual style was heavily influenced by the brutality of the source material. The filmmaker said: “The book is very violent. It’s really brutal. That’s, again, kind of the north star: to say, ‘OK, what can I read and what can I translate onto film?’ I felt it had to be pretty brutal, because anything that feels sort of glossed over would be untruthful and, therefore propaganda, kind of glorifying it. And so I wanted to make it a physical, visceral experience, putting the audience right into it. Which includes violence.”
While talking about the origin of the screenplay, Berger added: “I took the British script that existed and imbued it with that sense that I just talked about, while taking things from the novel, taking things from research, and taking things from inside of me. There were also certain poetic elements that we added. For example, the scarf. Individual little things like that which make the characters dear to us, in a way. But mostly, there’s also an attitude in the novel that I tried to imbue into the rewrite of the script, and also into the filming.”
Last night, All Quiet on the Western Front delivered a serious statement by winning seven BAFTAs – including the coveted ‘Best Picture’ and ‘Best Director’ for Berger. In addition, the film also picked up awards for ‘Best Adapted Screenplay’ and ‘Best Cinematography’, among other categories such as ‘Best Original Score’. During the acceptance speech, producer Malte Grunert said: “It’s just incredible”. Grunert also took the opportunity to point out the tragedy of an entire generation being “poisoned by right-wing propaganda into thinking war is an adventure”.
Watch All Quiet on the Western Front on Netflix now.