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All quiet on the Western front is an American epic war film that was shot in 1930 and was based on the Maria Remarques, novel that goes by similar title. The epic film is considered as one of the harrowing and realistic account of war during the First World War one and was selected in 1990 and preserved by the United States library of congress National Film registry and was deemed as a culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.
The novel and the movies All quiet on the Western Front is a story about a what happened to a young German boy Baumer Paul who together with his classmates were talked into joining the army by their head teacher Kantorek who convinced the youngsters that it was a honorable thing for one to defend his mother country that was the giver of their lives. In addition to that the teacher also believed that the so called war often ends very quickly and is always results to a victory.
The youngsters were then enlisted into the army and were enrolled into an army training where they were transformed into soldiers and progressed to corporal and moved out to join the second command. On their first assignment seventy members of the Paul's group out of the one fifty were killed and in the following days they were forced to go back to the battle lines where the took rest and got to interact with French girls whom they bring food to. As they swam Paul desperately wishes that he could recapture innocence with a girl but felt that it was an impossible thing considering his current state.
After the rest Paul goes on leave and discovers that he was unable to have fun due to the effects of the battle as he felt awkward an oppressed in his own hometown. At the end of his leave Paul spends time with the Russian prisoners of war near the training camp. Paul was then sent back to his company and during one of the battles Paul is separated and ends up sharing a shell hole with the enemy army who he stabs and kills him. Such act haunted him as he believed that the soldier was just a victim of war rather than an enemy.
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After another leave Paul returns to this company and more of his friends are killed in the combat and one of his new friends Kat is killed when he was carrying him to safety. In the following days Paul mediated what he could do with himself he went back to the community after the peace was attained but such contemplations were brought to an end when Paul was killed in the war a act that seemed to bring relieve to him as it brought an end to a long borne suffering from the effects of war on him.
In the novel and the movie All quiet at the western front the enemy just as in other wars is dehumanized and often viewed as a menace but Paul and his comrades in the novel however gradually discovers that the so called enemies were innocent people just like them and that they were only victims of war. This is showcased in the film when Paul is sent back to his company and reunites with them after which they are addressed by a German emperor who is described as short and with weak voice.
After the address they went to battle where Paul gets separated from his group and ends up jumping into a shell hole with a German soldier whom he stabs and makes him die a painful and slow death. After such awful act Paul was overcome by remorse for having hurt him and to add to that he peruses through his identify cards and discovers that the lain soldier had a wife and a child back at home. The chilling discovery makes Paul to feel that his enemy soldier was no enemy at all but rather a victim of war juts like him. The results of hand to hand combat with the enemy soldier made Paul to appreciate the fact that soldiers in front line of the war were being dehumanized by the acts of war just like others.
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In the All quiet on western front, after Paul and his friends were convinced into joining military especially after the ten weeks of brutal training in the hands of the brutal Corporal Himmelstoss coupled with the unimaginable brutality of being on the war front they came to realize that the ideals regarding patriotism and nationalism that their head teacher had taught them were just empty clich‚s. Such realization made them change their initial believes that war was a glorious and honorable as they often lived in a constant terror.
The dehumanizing act of the war is also evident when the cook refuses to give the surviving soldiers the rations that would have been taken by the dead soldiers and this illustrates that soldiers in the war front are also mistreated and live under conditions that are unfit for human existence. The act of the cook refusing to give them food war s act of inhumanity which makes the soldiers to be victims of war as they undergo suffering even from their colleagues instead of being accorded a full support as they fight for the country (Bloom, 56).
When Paul and his friends pays a visit to one of his friend whose leg was recently amputated after contracting gangrene one of their classmate Muller declares an interests in taking the boots of his dying friend Kemmerich and this act was not considered insensitive by Paul as he had been hardened and made insensitive by the war hence his idea of thinking on the point that since Kemmerich leg had been amputated then he no longer needs the boots. Such cold treatment towards a classmate and the acceptance by the dying soldier to give out his boot to Muller before he dies is an indication that soldiers in the war front has their characters reduced to inhuman level where they become less sensitive and disconnected from emotions like fear, grief and sympathy. Therefore the rare understanding that exist between the distressed comrade soldiers reveals that they appreciate the fact that they are all bound by the fate of war hence one has got to do what is disposal though inhuman to survive.
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Another evidence in the movie that shows that soldiers in the war front are not enemies as the war propaganda claims is when Paul's group converses with a group of new recruits including Kat who after offering the combined group an impressive bean stew says that be lives that if all the men in the army including the officers were paid same wages and similar type of food the war could end quickly. By this he implies that the officers in the army are misusing the junior officers by deploying them to war front with limited pay and food supplies while they pay themselves and eat well despite not being in the war front.
Thus from this its evidence its clear that all soldiers deployed to war front suffer similar problems hence their innocence of being termed as an enemy since they are being used to fight for their bosses rather than fighting against themselves as another's enemies. In addition to that one of the Paul's friends adds that if they were all treated equal there couldn't be armies as the nation's leaders (who are in most cases petty and insignificant) could be formed to fight themselves using clubs rather than forcing innocent soldier's gains each other in the war front. From this conversation it's evident that during most wars the leaders who are in most case petty, arrogant and powerful use the soldiers to spread their personal propaganda in to the war front rather themselves getting alternative ways to solving their differences (Remarque and Helmuth, 65).
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During the night when the men went on an harrowing mission to lay a barbed wire at the front they were pound by artillery which forced the to hid in a grave yard with the force of the shelling causing corpses to emerge from their graves while the living men fall dead around them. Such experiences in the war are faced by the soldiers on both of the fighting sides hence leaving them with post war traumatic stress that renders them unfit back in their communities and families and this is confirmed in the movie when Paul ponders what he might do with himself if the war ends (Kelly, 37).
Also the issue of the effects of war on its soldiers is seen when the Paul's company is given a short reprieve after they were caught in a bloody battle with the charging allied infantry that left men blown apart, severed limbs from torsos resulting to giant rats to pick at the wounded and the dead. On the reprieve Paul and some of his friends goes for a swimming that ended in rendezvous with French girls which makes Paul to wish that he would recapture his innocence with a girl but such wishes are interrupted by the harsh reality that as result of the war such wishes will never come to pass again and this reveals how dehumanizing soldiers can be while at war front hence the propaganda of describing the charging soldiers as a menace and an enemy is faulty as their lives are already destroyed forever by the experience s of war front.
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After Paul receiving seventeen days of leave he spend sometime with his family and the relatives of his dead friends like Kemmerich where he untruthfully lies to his ailing mother that his son died an instant and painless death. During this leave Paul finds himself feeling awkward and oppressed in his hometown as he couldn't discuss his traumatic experiences with any one. After his leave Paul spends sometime in a training camp near a group of Russian prisoners of war which he is compelled to feel that those prisoners were jus as human him subhuman enemies as claimed by the propaganda of war. Paul further wonders hoe role that war play in making enemies of people who in reality have no grudge against each other. Such feelings and pondering by Paul shows that soldiers are all victims of war and that it force innocent individual who are not enemies to fight each other for the sake of fulfilling the propaganda of war that is orchestrated by the nations leaders (Remarque, 23).
Finally after more soldiers form the Paul's company are killed and wounded Paul and Kropp are also wounded and forced to bribe a sergeant -major in order to be placed on an hospital train together where Paul undergoes surgery while his friend left was amputated making him very depressed. All theses experiences just adds to the agonies that soldiers in the war front face as they are brainwashed by their officer into believing that they are fighting an honorable war. The issues of bribe shows the cruelty that the officers has towards their junior officers whom they are supposed to lead ad role model hence justifying the disinterred of the officers towards what happens to the soldiers in combat.
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In addition to that the killing of all the company members in the war including Paul illustrate the harsh outcome that awaits all the soldiers that are deployed to war front in name of fighting for the country. Therefore based on the evidences illustrated in this paper the novel and the movie all quiet on the western front its clear that the propaganda of war wrongly dehumanized the so called enemy allies and articulately deploys its soldiers to a dead end mission characterized with deplorable working conditions and the life lasting effects that result from the experiences of war.