A brutal onslaught for the senses, German director Edward Berger’s adaptation of the author Erich Maria Remarque’s classic World War I novel All Quiet on the Western Front, is realistic and unforgiving. Strictly speaking, this is a straight adaptation of Remarque’s work. A few instances in the novel are included, but much of the film, particularly the ending, takes its own, often disturbing, twists and turns.

Largely told from the point-of-view of private Paul Bäumer (Felix Kemmerer) we first meet him at 17, laughing with his friends in his hometown, eager to enlist in the Imperial German Army. Arriving at the front with little training, pure luck allows him to survive the first few hours. Life in the trenches quickly reveals how bad conditions are. With his innocence gone, Paul makes a small group of friends, only to watch them whittled away as the days and months pass. Once fighting for a cause, Paul and his fellow soldiers are reduced to fighting for scraps of food while trying to stay alive. A scarf with the scent of a French girl becomes a precious reminder of home and humanity.

While not necessary, having at least a passing knowledge of World War I will make All Quiet on the Western Front a more emotional experience. Yes, you may be able to predict what happens, but Edward Berger has delivered a gripping story, right down to the “desperate” music ques and close-ups of soldiers faces that convey more than words ever could. As soldiers slog through the mud, the decision makers are seen riding in velvet lined trains and eating gourmet meals. The difference is striking and impossible to forget.

In only his second film, Felix Kemmerer carries the emotional weight of the film like a veteran.  Cinematographer James Friend finds surprising beauty in the grime and darkness of war. It’s hard to believe that most of his work has been in television up to this point (including Willow in 2022). Having taken home both a BAFTA and Academy Award for his work in All Quiet on the Western Front, hopefully Friend will be given more opportunities to shoot theatrical films.

Most of us know Remarque’s story. Yes, Lewis Milestone’s 1930 version has rightfully earned its place in film history. Edward Berger has effectively updated the story for today’s audiences. No matter the time, All Quiet on the Western Front remains a loud rebuke of war and its cost.

Presented in the 2.39:1 aspect ratio, MPI’s excellent 2160p, HDR10-enhanced transfer boasts pristine detail and clarity throughout. The included Dolby Vision option allows the image to pop off the screen with detail. Depth shines, particularly when framing a soldier against a battlefield. Cool tones are well mixed with the gritty appearance of the film. blacks are inky with no signs of crush. Colors pop when appropriate during the rather bleak proceedings. The many close-ups offer natural skin tones throughout. A few mild noise related artifacts pop up during battlefield scenes. Nonetheless, viewers should be pleased with the viewing experience.

Dolby Atmos German, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English, Dolby Digital 5.1 French, Spanish, Italian, Turkish, Polish, Ukrainian, Czech, Hungarian, and Spanish tracks are available.

The Dolby Atmos German track provides everything needed. The war taking place sounds full and realistic throughout. The surround are working overtime, making it feel as though action scenes are happening all around you. The firepower and explosions give the subwoofer a work out. Dialogue is clear, clean and concise throughout.

English SDH, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, Turkish, Polish, Ukrainian, Czech and Hungarian subtitles are available.

This two-disc release ships in standard-issue Mediabook packaging. The design is stunning. It includes a 24- page booklet featuring separate interviews with director Edward Berger and historian Daniel Schönpflug. A Blu-ray of the film, which offers the following extras is included:

  • Audio Commentary with Director Edward Berger: Berger does a good job of covering all aspects of the film.
  • Making-of Featurette (HD, 18:27) In both German and English this is a brief but solid look at the making of the film. It includes brief interviews with the cast and crew.
  • Original Trailer (HD, 2:19)
  • US Trailer (HD, 2:19)
  • International Trailer (HD, 2:16)
  • Teaser (HD, 1:52)