The story concentrates on four German soldiers, sent to the front in the waning days of WWI. The futility of killing an enemy who is already dead spiritually, and of being killed for a cause that has for all intents and purposes been resolved, is brought home to the viewer with both barrels.
This film is not currently playing on MUBI but 30 other great films are. See what’s now showing
WWI seen from the German side. Incredible long sequences without editing where only running soldiers and explosions give rythm to the film. Karl's face slowly converting into a skull thanks to a subtle lighting. Strongly recommended.
A painful film to experience, but one which is breathtaking & imperative. Though Karl & the student are privileged w/ regards to characterization, Pabst's portraiture of gesture, mannerism, & countenance is diffused throughout. Principled battlefield tracking shots juxtaposed w/ surprising long-take static shots of ambient battle scenes & an orchestra performance. I understand why Pabst asks the viewers to suffer.
WESTFRONT 1918, as Pabst's first experiment w/ sound, is so ambitious as to be almost crazy. Whereas much early sound cinema is extremely stage-bound and inert, Pabst uses camera and blocking in the same maximally expressive manner he did in his silents, only w/ sound. Attempting to create a sound world commensurate w/ combat, using the ponderous equipment of the day, betrays an intractable pioneering spirit.
Recall the moment when a mother, after seeing her son, who has been in the war for a year and a half, in the street, controls herself saying "I've been waiting in line all morning". That's intelligence in depicting the dialogue between emotions and needs, and confusing the viewer's expectatives, improving the experience. All the film maintains this level of brilliance.
I find the popular assumption by film scholars that there are no real anti-war films very doubtful. Pabst´s film delivers no attractive or fascinating images on the subject. There is no sense of adventure, just the atrocities of war. (By the way: Paths of Glory owes a lot to this film.)
4.5 stars. "Pull yourself together. We're supposed to be heroes." Often compared to All Quiet on the Western Front, Westfront has less pathos, less poetry, but exposes the horrors of the trenches with incredible realism and through great sound design (this was Pabst's first talkie). However, as Pabst himself said, realism isn't the point, but instead what developments and personal stories that gives way to.
7 ma meriterebbe anche di più, solo che nella mia scala inerente alla mia ricerca, e ciò che più si avvicina al suo rapporto con una oggettiva onestà, in modo tale di essere vagamente utile al prossimo, un film del genere può essere apprezzato fino ad un certo punto