This week for our Friday Classic Movie we are headed into the trenches of the Great War with a classic German film from 1930, Westfront 1918. Now available in its entirety for free on Youtube, it was originally released in Germany as Vier von der Infanterie and was based on the novel of the same name written by Ernst Johannsen. The film was directed by Georg Wilhelm Pabst and he takes you into the bleak trenches of the First World War. There, among the horror of modern war you follow a small group of German infantrymen trying to survive on the Western Front. Pabst directed his first film, The Treasure, in 1923 and became known for ‘discovering’ actresses including Greta Garbo, Louise Brooks, Leni Riefenstahl and Asta Nielsen. Westfront 1918 and Kameradschaft, which he directed in 1931, proved his abilities in the new age of sound.
|Directed by||Georg Wilhelm Pabst|
|Produced by||Seymour Nebenzal|
|Written by||Ernst Johannsen|
|Music by||Alexander Laszlo|
|Edited by||Wolfgang Loe-Bagier|
|Distributed by||Nero Films|
A quick overview
As World War I draws to a close, a German lieutenant (Claus Clausen) leads his troops on a dispiriting tour of duty through France. They find brief entertainment and relief in a village behind the lines, but primarily terror fills their lives as the attacks on and from the French army ebb and flow. In between horrifying intervals of bloodshed in the trenches, one soldier, Karl (Gustav Diessl), is granted a brief reprieve and allowed to return home to his wife (Hanna Hoessrich), only to discover the degradation forced on his family by wartime poverty. Returning to the front, the disillusioned Karl willfully volunteers for a harrowing mission as the French launch a massive armored attack.
Westfront 1918 was a critical success when it was released. However with the rise of National Socialism it quickly fell out of favor and was soon labeled as ‘cowardly defeatism’. The German authorities eventually declared it unsuitable for the people. Despite how the Nazis felt towards it, Westfront 1918 is a classic film from early cinema. It was particularly pioneering in its use of sound. Today it remains a fantastic piece to watch for collectors, enthusiasts and anyone who loves the firearms, gear and equipment of this time period. As this film was shot not long after the war it is chock full of period weapons, uniforms and gear. Not only that, but many of the actors and extras were veterans of the trenches. Due to this it makes for a great film to watch on a Friday night with some good food and a bunch of friends.
Before we jump into our feature presentation though let’s get things rolling with a fun short. After all you can’t have a feature film without first having a short, right? So here’s a video from LaRue Tactical where they drop one of their PredatOBR rifles from an airplane, assemble it and put it to work. They not only shoot some steel at distance, but even knock a drone from the sky. Gotta love LaRue Tactical.
And now for our Feature Presentation
If you’d like to own a DVD for your collection Westfront 1918 is available from Amazon.com HERE.