The most brilliant aspect of 'All Quiet on the Western Front' is the way in which the film remains strictly faithful to the wonderful novel of the same name, creating complexity of the war experience through a duality of the main character's emotional journey and the in-your-face horror of life in the trenches. Director Delbert Mann did such a great job with re-creating the battlefield that this film has become standard educational material for schoolchildren learning about 'The Great War.'
What is almost as remarkable is that this was a made-for-TV film, a category which usually guarantees lower than cinema quality. Not here. With a generous budget Mann and his team have recreated as close as possible the repugnance and terror of war on an epic scale, and imbued it was a cast of stars including Donald Pleasance, Richard Thomas, Ian Holm, and Mann's old sparring partner from their Oscar winning classic Marty, Ernest Borgnine.
The First World War has never been as accurately and as effectively depicted in film as the Second, but this classic effort, which remains one of the best kept secrets of the movies, deserves much great er exposure, especially given the fact that the last veterans of this terrible conflict as passing away, and given world circumstances the old adage of this being "the war to end all wars" seems more laughable than ever. Classic viewing, couldn't reccomend it highly enough. It's the story of a young man coming to terms with a vicious reality previously shrouded in a jingoistic myth, so even those with a dislike of history or military film genres can enjoy this epic. Lest we forget.