“All Quiet on the Western Front” is a novel by Erich Maria Remarque, published in 1928 about Paul Baumer, a 19 year old student, who is persuaded by his schoolmaster to join the Imperial German Army. He goes to the western front where he and his comrades witnesses the horror and brutality of war through a series of deadly, meaningless battles that left an entire generation traumatized. The book was adapted to a movie in 1930 as well as 1979. Having recently viewed the latter, I would strongly recommend that anyone read the novel rather than watch the 1979 film. To clarify, I am not immediately against a film remake just because it is not the original; at times it is interesting to see how a book is interpreted, however books are often difficult to make into a film and unfortunately, “All Quiet on the Western Front” was no exception. Not only was the film an poor adaptation, but it also was not visually appealing, the acting was somewhat poor, the wrong parts were emphasized and the atmosphere of the movie was inferior to that of the novel.
When any book is made into a movie, one of the most difficult tasks is interpreting the visual aspects, and viewers are often disappointed by the result as it is not how they imagined it while reading the book. While the “All Quiet on the Western Front” novel was limited only by the reader's imagination, The movie's action scenes were anything but realistic and the special effects did not stand the test of time as modern films contain much more sophisticated special effects... While movies should never be judged by special effects alone, the film was certainly not enhanced by them. In fact modern audiences might even consider the effects as humorous which was certainly not the intention.
Movies generally place a greater emphasis on action than books do, and this was evident in the “All Quiet on the Western Front” remake. Almost half of the movie consisted of action whereas in the book, it wasn't nearly as significant. Remarque was not trying to make a thrilling war story, as this would contradict his anti-war theme. While combat was relevant to the story, the movie stretched the action too much. At some points, it seemed as if the movie was almost glorifying war as there was almost no blood, and Paul even appeared heroic at times. The book was more effective at denouncing war due to its less exciting portrayal of World War I.
As mentioned earlier, the “All Quiet on the Western Front” film was far less graphic than the novel. Because one of the main themes of the novel was the terrible brutality of war, the excruciatingly detailed, gory descriptions were essential to the anti-war message of the novel and they illustrated the characters' fragility as well as the reality of war: “Bertnick has a chest wound. After a while a fragment smashes away his chin, and the same fragment has sufficient force to tear open Leer's hip. Leer groans as he supports himself on his arm, he bleeds quickly, no one can help him....