Netflix just released the first trailer for its forthcoming film adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque’s classic World War I novel, All Quiet on the Western Front, and it looks like the streaming service is giving the literary masterpiece a brutally authentic treatment.
Brimming with shots of gritty hand-to-hand combat and a blood-soaked no man’s land, the trailer conveys the same tragic and wasteful struggle that Remarque described so vividly in his 1928 book.
The trailer opens with a quote from the novel, warning audiences that this is no flag-waving escapade, but rather a story of loss on an inconceivable scale: “This is to be neither an accusation nor a confession, and least of all an adventure, for death is not an adventure to those who stand face to face with it.”
The film, directed by Edward Berger, is the first-ever German-language movie adaptation of Remarque’s novel. It stars German actors Daniel Brühl (The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Inglourious Basterds) and Sebastian Hülk (Hanna, Inglorious Basterds). Hülk, who plays the story’s chief protagonist, Paul Bäumer, is seen in the trailer transforming from a naive schoolboy, eager to participate in a grand adventure, to a disillusioned survivor of a war that cost the lives of nearly 10 million soldiers. Bäumer’s transformation echoes Remarque’s, who himself was wounded while serving on the Western Front.
Previous adaptations have attempted to tell the story in all its horror, yet those films lacked the special effects technology required to convey fully the nightmarish reality Remarque described. It looks like Berger has succeeded in that regard.
The trailer is filled with horrifying scenes, showing people being roasted alive by Flammenwerfer soldiers and men drowning each other in puddles of mud on flare-lit landscapes more closely resembling a distant moon than the French countryside. It’s only two minutes long, but what it shows seems to indicate that Netflix is finally giving the so-called “greatest war novel of all time” the movie adaptation it deserves.