All Quiet on the Western Front (film)

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All Quiet on the Western Front is a 1930 film about the horrors of the First World War and the deep detachment from civilian life felt by many German men returning from the frontline. It won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1930.

Directed by Lewis Milestone. Written by Erich Maria Remarque, Maxwell Anderson, George Abbott, Del Andrews, C. Gardner Sullivan, Walter Anthony and Lewis Milestone, based on the novel by Erich Maria Remarque.


Paul Bäumer[edit]

  • [While on a mission with his comrades, Paul takes cover in a shell hole to protect himself from gunfire] I say "You must [get out of this hollow], it is your comrades, it is not an idiotic command," and again: "What does it matter to me, I have only one life to lose—"
  • I saw him die. I didn't know what it was like to die before! And then, then I came outside and it felt so good to be alive, that I started in to walk fast. I began to think of the strangest things like bein' out in the fields, things like that. You know — girls. Then it felt as if there were something electric running from the ground up through me. And I started. And I began to run hard and I passed soldiers, and I heard voices calling to me, and I ran and I ran, and I felt as if I couldn't breathe enough air into me. And now I'm hungry.
  • Out of 20, three are officers, nine dead, Müller and three others wounded, and one in the mad house. We'll all be dead someday so let's forget it.
  • [Paul is trapped in a shell crater with the body of a French soldier who was just mortally wounded.] Stop that! I can't listen to that. Why do you take so long to die? You're going to die anyway. No, no. You won't die. No, no, You won't die. They're only little wounds. You'll get home. You'll be all right. You'll get home long before I will. You know I can't run away. That's why you accuse me. I tell you I didn't want to kill you. I tried to keep you alive. If you jumped in here again, I wouldn't do it... You see, when you jumped in here, you were my enemy — and I was afraid of you. But you're just a man like me, and I killed you. Forgive me, comrade. Say that for me. Say you forgive me! Oh, no, you're dead! Only you're better off than I am — you're through — they can't do any more to you now. Oh, God! why did they do this to us? We only wanted to live, you and I. Why should they send us out to fight each other? If they threw away these rifles and these uniforms, you could be my brother, just like Kat and Albert. You'll have to forgive me, comrade. I'll do all I can. I'll write to your parents. I'll write to your wife. I'll write to her. I promise she'll not want for anything. And I'll help her, and your parents, too. Only forgive me. Forgive me. Forgive me....

Sergeant Stanislaus "Kat" Katczinsky[edit]

  • Sometime I'm gonna take one of you volunteers apart — find out what makes you leave school and join the army. Hey, this is no parade ground.
  • [to new recruits] Now you're gonna see some shell fire, and you're gonna be scared... [a shell explodes nearby and they all duck for cover; one terrified recruit soils his pants] Never mind. It's happened to better men than you. And it's happened to me. When we come back, I'll get you all some nice, clean underwear!
  • That cannon shell you don't have to pay much attention to. Those big fellas just make a lot of noise and land about five miles behind the line. The things we've got to watch out for are them black ones. They don't give you much warning... Mother Earth — press yourselves down upon her! Bury yourselves deep into her! Just keep your eyes on me. When you see me flop, you flop, only try to beat me to it.
  • There's 80 of us left. The rest is in dressing stations or pushing up daisies

Tjaden[edit]

  • [to Paul on his return] It's gonna be a real war again.
  • There used to be some food in the sawdust. Now it's all sawdust. No joke either.
  • Replacements are all like that. Not even old enough to carry a pack. All they know how to do is die.
  • [of Katczinsky] If he were out, the war would be over. You remember what he always said: 'They're savin' him for the last.'

German Professor[edit]

  • [to class] You are the life of the Fatherland, you boys. You are the iron men of Germany. You are the gay heroes who will repulse the enemy when you are called upon to do so. It is not for me to suggest that any of you should stand up and offer to defend his country. But I wonder if such a thing is going through your heads? I know that in one of the schools, the boys have risen up in the classroom and enlisted in a mass. But, of course, if such a thing should happen here, you would not blame me for a feeling of pride. Perhaps, some will say that you should not be allowed to go yet, that you are too young, that you have homes, mothers, fathers, that you should not be torn away. Are your fathers so forgetful of their Fatherland that they would let it perish rather than you? Are your mothers so weak that they cannot send a son to defend the land which gave them birth?! And after all, is a little experience such a bad thing for a boy? Is the honor of wearing a uniform something from which we should run? And if our young ladies glory in those who wear it, is that anything to be ashamed of? I know you have never desired the adulation of heroes. That has not been part of my teaching. We have sought to make ourselves worthy and let acclaim come when it would. But to be foremost in battle is a virtue not to be despised. I believe it will be a quick war, that there will be few losses. But if losses there must be, then let us remember the Latin phrase which must have come to the lips of many a Roman when he stood embattled in a foreign land: Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori. 'Sweet and fitting it is to die for the Fatherland.' Some of you may have ambitions. I know of one young man who has great promise as a writer, and he has written the first act of a tragedy which would be a credit to one of the masters. And he is dreaming, I suppose, of following in the footsteps of Goethe and Schiller, and I hope he will. But now our country calls! The Fatherland needs leaders!! Personal ambition must be thrown aside in the one great sacrifice for our country! Here is a glorious beginning to your lives! The fields of honor calls you.
  • [about Paul] Here is one of the first to go, a lad who sat before me on these very benches who gave up all to serve in the first year of the war. One of the iron youth who have made Germany invincible in the field. Look at him, sturdy and bronze and clear-eyed, the kind of soldier every one of you should envy.

Others[edit]

  • Title card: This story is neither an accusation nor a confession, and least of all an adventure, for death is not an adventure to those who stand face to face with it. It will try simply to tell of a generation of men who, even though they may have escaped its shells, were destroyed by the war...
  • Himmelstoss: You're not much to begin with, but I'll do my best. The first thing to do is to forget everything you ever knew, everything you ever learned - Forget! See. Forget what you've been, and what you think you're going to be. You're going to be soldiers, and that's all. I'll take the mother's milk out of you, I'll make you hard-boiled. I'll make soldiers out of you, or kill you!
  • Franz Kemmerich: They've cut my leg off. Why didn't they tell me?...I can't walk any more.
  • Soldier: They never taught us anything really useful, like how to light a cigarette in the wind, or make a fire out of wet wood, or bayonet a man in the belly.
  • Albert Kropp: [after discovering that his leg was amputated] I won't be a cripple. I won't live, I tell you...I'll kill myself the first chance I get! I won't live! I won't live!
  • Mrs. Bäumer: Oh, Paul. You're a soldier now, aren't you? Somehow, I don't seem to know you... Are you really here Paul? You won't disappear, will you?
  • Mr. Bäumer: But we know how to honor the soldier who goes on in spite of love and death. [a truck full of coffins pulls up] Hey, look, new coffins. [a truck full of recruits pulls up] And they even sent us the stuff to fill 'em with!

Dialogue[edit]

Paul: You see, we haven't eaten since breakfast, we thought maybe you could tell us what we ought to do about it.
Tjaden: Eat without further delay. It's a bad town to bring an appetite to, soldier. We've been here since yesterday morning and we've been living on a bale of hay and razor blades.

Soldier: Dead. He's dead.
Katczinsky: Why did you risk your life bringing him in?
Soldier: But it's Behm, my friend.
Katczinsky: It's a corpse, no matter whose it is. Now, don't any of ya ever do that again.

Tjaden: Well, how do they start a war?
Soldier #1: Well, one country offends another.
Tjaden: How could one country offend another? You mean there's a mountain over in Germany gets mad at a field over in France?
Soldier #1: Well, stupid. One people offends another.
Tjaden: Oh, that's it. I shouldn't be here at all. I don't feel offended.
Katczinsky: It don't apply to tramps like you.
Tjaden: Good. Then I can be going home right away...The Kaiser and me...Me and the Kaiser felt just alike about this war. We didn't neither of us want any war, so I'm going home. He's there already.
Soldier #1: Somebody must have wanted it. Maybe it was the English. No, I don't want to shoot any Englishman. I never saw one 'til I came up here. And I suppose most of them never saw a German 'til they came up here. No, I'm sure they weren't asked about it.
Soldier #2: Well, it must be doing somebody some good.
Tjaden: Not me and the Kaiser.
Soldier #1: I think maybe the Kaiser wanted a war.
Tjaden: You leave us out of this.
Katczinsky: I don't see that. The Kaiser's got everything he needs.
Soldier #1: Well, he never had a war before. Every full-grown Emperor needs one war to make him famous. Why, that's history.
Paul: Yeah, Generals too. They need war.
Soldier #3: And manufacturers. They get rich.
Soldier #1: Nobody wants it in particular. And then all at once, here it is. We didn't want it. The English didn't want it. And here we are fighting.
Katczinsky: I'll tell ya how it should all be done. Whenever there's a big war comin' on, you should rope off a big field.
Soldier #1: And sell tickets.
Katczinsky: Yeah, and, and, on the big day, you should take all the kings and their cabinets and their generals, put them in the center dressed in their underpants and let 'em fight it out with clubs. The best country wins.

Katczinsky: You couldn't do anything about it. We all have to kill. We can't help it. That's what we are here for... Now don't you lose any more sleep over this business.
Paul: Maybe it was because I was out there with him so long, huh?...After all, war is war.

Old Man: And how are things out there? Terrible, eh? Terrible. But we must carry on. After all, you at least get decent food out there. Naturally it's worse here. Naturally but the best for our soldiers all the time. That's our motto: 'The best for our soldiers.' But you must give the Frenchies a good licking. [looks at map of the Front] There's the line. It runs so. Shove ahead out there, and don't stick to that everlasting trench warfare.
Paul: When you get in it, war isn't the way it looks back here.
Old Man: Oh! You don't know anything about it. Of course, you're needed. But this relates to the whole, and you can't judge that. Of course, you do your duty and you risk your life. But for that, you receive the highest honor.

Professor: You must speak to them. You must tell them what it means to serve your Fatherland.
Paul: No, no, I can't tell them anything.
Professor: You must Paul, just a word. Just tell them how much they're needed out there. Tell them why you went and what it meant to you.
Paul: I can't say anything.
Professor: Can't you remember some deed of heroism, some touch of nobility to tell about?
...
Paul: I can't tell you anything you don't know. We live in the trenches out there. We fight. We try not to be killed. Sometimes we are. That's all.
Professor: No, no Paul.
Paul: I've been there. I know what it's like.
Professor: But that's not what one dwells on, Paul.
Paul: I heard you in here reciting that same old stuff, making more iron men, more young heroes. You still think it's beautiful and sweet to die for your country, don't you? We used to think you knew. The first bombardment taught us better. It's dirty and painful to die for your country. When it comes to dying for your country, it's better not to die at all. There are millions out there dying for their country, and what good is it?
[Some of the boys boo Paul]
Paul: You asked me to tell them how much they're needed out there. He tells you, 'Go out and die,' you know. But if you'll pardon me, it's easier to say 'go out and die' than it is to do it.
Boy #1: Coward.
Paul: And it's easier to say it than to watch it happen.
Entire class: You're a coward.
Professor: No! No! Boys! Boys! [To Paul] I'm sorry about that, but I must say...
Paul: There's no use talking like this. You won't know what I mean - only, it's been a long while since we enlisted out of this classroom. So long, I thought maybe the whole world had learned by this time. Only now, they're sending babies, and they won't last a week. I shouldn't have come on leave. Up at the front, you're alive or you're dead and that's all. And you can't fool anybody about that very long. And up there, we know we're lost and done for, whether we're dead or alive. Three years we've had of it, four years, and every day a year, and every night a century. And our bodies are earth. And our thoughts are clay. And we sleep and eat with death. And we're done for, because you can't live that way and keep anything inside you. I shouldn't have come on leave. I'll go back tomorrow. I've got four days more, but I can't stand it here. I'll go back tomorrow. Sorry.

Mrs. Bäumer: There's something I want to say to you, Paul. It's just be on your guard against the women out there. They're no good.
Paul: Where we are, there aren't any women, Mother.
Mrs. Bäumer: Be very careful at the front, Paul...I'll pray for you every day and if you could get a job that's not quite so dangerous.

Paul: Oh, I'm no good for back there any more, Kat. None of us are. We've been in this too long. The young men thought I was a coward because I told them that we learned that death is stronger than duty to one's country. The old men said: 'Go on! Push on to Paris!' My father even wanted me to wear my uniform around him. It's not home back there anymore. All I could think of was: 'I'd like to get back and see Kat again.' You're all I've got left, Kat.
Katczinsky: I'm not much to have left. I missed you Paul.
Paul: At least we know what it's all about out here. There are no lies here.
Katczinsky: 'Push on to Paris'? You ought to see what they've got on the other side. They eat white bread over there. They've got dozens of airplanes to our one. And tanks that'll go over anything. And what have we got? Guns so worn they've dropped shells on our own men. No food, no ammunition, no officers. 'Push on to Paris'? So that's the way they talk back there.

Cast[edit]

External links[edit]