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Directed by Lewis Milestone

United States 1930 136 mins.

Adapting Erich Maria Remarque’s classic novel of the atrocities of war for Universal, Lewis Milestone produced one of the studio’s most expensive, sweeping films—one that resonated deeply with a public still dealing with the aftermath of the great war and mired in severe economic depression. A group of German boys—who we first see, impressionable and naïve, at secondary school—are compelled to join the army “for the Fatherland,” following an impassioned speech by their headmaster. Paul (Lew Ayres), the moral center of the group, and the others are then sent through the various levels of hell in this searing tale of wartime horrors and their post-war repercussions, which has deep resonance today with its strong anti-war, pro-human message.

Genres: War, Drama

Appears in: World War I on Film