It’s almost impossible to pick a favourite war film since so many of them are fantastic. To narrow it down for the occasion of Remembrance Day, I stuck to First World War films and came up with the 1979 version of All Quiet on the Western Front. The last time I remember watching it was on a long, quiet Sunday like today, sitting around my dad’s place in Oxfordshire. I abandoned whatever my plans had been to see the film through, pausing every half an hour or so for another cup of coffee or a snack. It was a good day.
The film differs a little from the book in that it has a bit more of a narrative structure – the novel opens in the midst of the group’s military careers with a few flashbacks here and there to their youth, whilst the film starts off with their training and formative days at the front. Ian Holm puts on a great performance as Corporal Himmelstoss, the detested training officer. The lead role of Paul went to Richard Thomas, whose career began with The Waltons. If you’re having trouble remembering him – I did – he was also the (terrible) pony-tailed author in the 90's series of Stephen King’s It, apparently based in part on the author himself (Thomas’ character has published a novel called The Glowing).
It also won a Golden Globe, so that’s probably good. If you’re looking for something to watch, particularly on Remembrance Day today, why not give it a try.
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