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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



The Northwest Film Center recognizes and honors the Indigenous peoples of this region on whose ancestral lands the museum now stands. These include the Willamette Tumwater, Clackamas, Kathlemet, Molalla, Multnomah and Watlala Chinook Peoples and the Tualatin Kalapuya who today are part of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, and many other Native communities who made their homes along the Columbia River. We also want to recognize that Portland today is a community of many diverse Native peoples who continue to live and work here. We respectfully acknowledge and honor all Indigenous communities—past, present, future—and are grateful for their ongoing and vibrant presence.