It is one of the most famous literary depictions of the First World War. Now, the classic novel All Quiet on the Western Front is to be adapted for the screen once again.
The novel, first published in 1929, reflects the experiences of its author, Erich Maria Remarque, who served as a German infantryman during the First World War. The story follows teenagers Paul Bäumer and his school friends, Albert and Müller, who enlist in the German army on the outbreak of conflict in 1914.
Later to become a global bestseller, which was translated into multiple languages, the novel explores the brutality and futility of the war and the stress endured by the young soldiers.
Remarque himself was just 16 when the war broke out, but was not conscripted until 1916, after which he spent a few months on the Western Front before being hit by shrapnel and repatriated back to a German hospital. Later banned and burned during the Third Reich period, the novel’s influence on popular culture remains immense.
The book was first adapted for the screen in 1930, as a film directed by Lewis Milestone, which later won two Oscars. A British television adaptation was broadcast in 1979.
This new version, due to be released on Netflix later this autumn, is the first German-language rendition of the story to be produced. It is to be directed by Edward Berger (whose credits include Jack, Deutschland 83, and Patrick Melrose). Other key names associated with the film include Malte Grunert, its producer, and Daniel Bruhl, who will serve as an executive producer and a leading cast member. Newcomer Felix Kammerer will play the role of Paul Bäumer.
In a recent interview with the website Netflixqueue, Berger spoke of his admiration for the book. ‘Remarque’s novel is almost 100 years old, but it could just as well have been written today,’ he said. ‘Its language, the violence, the physicality, the wit – it all feels so very modern, it could easily have been written by an author of our generation.’
Production of All Quiet on the Western Front took place in the spring of 2021, with filming in Belgium, Germany, and the Czech Republic.
Although a specific release date has yet to be announced, the film is due to arrive on Netflix in late October.