Erich Maria Remarque’s magnum opus 'All Quiet on the Western Front' has previously been adapted twice for the silver screen. Once into an Oscar-winning silent film all the way back in 1930, and once into a less critically acclaimed British-speaking movie in 1979. It seemed a tragedy that perhaps the most important piece of war media to come out of the 20th century had not been translated into its original language of German, but tragedy no more, as the dying days of October produced the Netflix-backed German adaptation spearheaded by German director Edward Berger, known for the brilliant 'Deutschland 83' series.

This adaptation is highly focused on the horror of the war, and with this, the main character Paul Bäumer, played by Felix Kammerer is less of a character, and more of a general vessel to show the widespread horror of the millions of young people during the war. Paul has very little backstory, yet the tender moments with other soldiers, Katczinsky in particular, and the horrors Paul goes through, help the watcher to build an intense connection to Paul, perhaps more so than '1917', which employs the similar vessel tactic. One thing for sure, however, is that Paul is certainly more fleshed out than Blake, Schofield’s companion in '1917', who looked as if Sam Smith and Frodo Baggins had a child.

The moments of battle, and the entire movie, are wonderfully shot with tragic beauty, with brilliant use of colours and fog to create a feeling of large scale yet claustrophobic nature and making the melee fight moments intense and gruesome. Berger merges the beautiful images and the gore to create an intense, unforgettable watch. This is paired with the brilliant acting from Paul in particular, who uses his eyes wondrously to show horror, something that would have been seen all along the front lines.

There is a major deviation to the source material with Daniel Brühl portraying a German diplomat, which despite not adding much to the overall story, it provides a nice insight to the attempts to stop needless death, something directly contrasted by the detached politicians and the general leading Paul’s regiment, who are prolonging and adding to death. However, this addition of Brühl’s character leads to important moments where Paul returns home on leave to be cut out.

Yet despite this large cut, the movie still has a mammoth run time of 148 minutes, which drags on in the second half. The pacing issues are enforced by the lack of action, and when there is action, it can get repetitive.

Repetition is sometimes used very well, with shots and actions repeating themselves at times to show the constant cycle of fresh-faced soldiers sent to die, again showing the apathy of the politicians and generals who were not affected by the death of the soldiers.

Die-hard fans of the novel will also be disappointed by the ending, which feels tacked on at the end, and the screenwriters tried to give more meaning to the ending, with the final seconds of war being shown, instead of showing the sense of randomness as is in the novel.

On a technical aspect, the movie is simply stunning, with great cinematography paired with striking music. The cinematography is so good it might see a nomination for the best cinematography Oscar as well as being Germany’s nomination for best language film. And the best part, it can be seen for free or at no extra cost. Being on Netflix, existing members can watch whenever they wish, and interested people can get a Netflix trial. However, the writing is very much the let-down of the film, and I myself was left wanting more, as there is only so much the technical aspects can cover up for. All Quiet on the Western Front deserves high praise for its unfazed presentation of war, yet one wonders how the plot would have looked like had Edward Berger been given full control of the screenplay. Yet this hard-hitting, unforgettable adaptation, despite having flaws, is nothing short of Remarque-able.

Score: 8.5/10