Swedish film poster for Westfront 1918
|Directed by||Georg Wilhelm Pabst|
|Produced by||Seymour Nebenzal|
|Written by||Ernst Johannsen|
|Music by||Alexander Laszlo|
|Editing by||Wolfgang Loe-Bagier|
|Distributed by||Nero Films|
|Running time||97 mins|
Westfront 1918 (German: Vier von der Infanterie) is a German film, set mostly in the trenches of the Western Front during World War I. It was directed in 1930 by Georg Wilhelm Pabst, from the novel Vier von der Infanterie by Ernst Johannsen, and deals with the impact of the war on a group of infantrymen. It featured an ensemble cast led by screen veterans Fritz Kampers and Gustav Diessl; Diessl had been a prisoner of war for a year during the war.
The film bears resemblance to its close contemporary, the All Quiet on the Western Front (1930), an American production, although it has a bleaker tone consistent with Pabst's New Objectivity work through the late 1920s. It was particularly pioneering in its early use of sound—it was Pabst's first "talkie"—in that Pabst managed to record live audio during complex tracking shots through the trenches.
Westfront 1918 was a critical success when it was released, although it was often shown in truncated form. With the rise of National Socialism, the film quickly became considered by the German authorities as unsuitable for the people, notably for its obvious pacifism, and for its clear denunciation of war. This was an attitude that propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels would soon label as "cowardly defeatism".
- written by Google translate. Meaningless even to those who have seen the film*
France 1918. In the last months of World War I to spend four infantrymen—Bayer, the student, Karl and the lieutenant—a few days of rest behind the front. Here, the student falls in love with the French peasant girl Yvette. Back at the front suffer the four anew the war with everyday hardships, dirt and danger of death. The Bayer, Karl and the lieutenant are spilled, the student digs them out. Later they get mistakenly under the friendly fire artillery, and again she saves the student : As messengers he risked his life to obtain the setting of the fire.
Karl receives holiday in the starving home and promptly caught his wife in bed with a butcher's. Embittered and unreconciled, he returns to the front. In his absence, the student was stabbed in the melee. In the mud of a shell-hole nor is his body, only one hand stands out. An enemy offensive announces itself. Finally, supported by tanks large French infantry attack breaks through the thin German lines in. During the defense Onslaught Karl and Bayer are seriously wounded, covered the remaining members of the group. The lieutenant has a nervous breakdown and falls into insanity. Nonstop "Hurrah" shouting, he salutes a pile of corpses. He is admitted to the field hospital, as well as Karl and Bayer. In fever Karl sees his wife again and dies with the words "We are all to blame!". It revealed to him, but his hand is hanging out the side. A lying beside him French Wounded takes her in his and says "enemies—no—comrades". The final message "End" is displayed with a question mark.
Around 1930 war films had boom in Germany. One of the few exceptions was formed Western Front in 1918, the seven months before the American anti-war film on the Western Front on 23 May 1930 had premiered in Berlin. Screenplay based on the novel of the four infantry by Ernst Johannsen.
Stylistically, the film achieves a surprisingly high degree of realism, especially in the trench and fight scenes. The monotony of dying reinforced the oppressive impression of authenticity. Addition, there are "small" silent scenes, such as when the student almost incidentally observed as grave markers are made in a field of carpentry on the assembly line, or as Karl's mother does not want to leave their place in the food queue when they again see her son.
But Pabst wanted more than just "Realism" : "I a realist? From my very first movie I have chosen realistic themes, but with the intention resolutely to be a stylist. ... Realism must be a trampoline from which you jump higher and higher, and in itself it has no value. The point is to overcome the reality. Realism is a means, not an end." (Quoted in : Tape Man / Hembus, p. 21). So not the fight scenes, but the individual stories of four soldiers Pabst illustrate actual pacifist statement: the belief in the power of international solidarity of ordinary people.
After the Nazis had seized power in 1933, the film was banned because it was considered "a very one-sided and therefore false representation of war" show and that would jeopardize "vital interest of the state to preserve the military will of the people maintain and strengthen" (text of the prohibition application at the German Film Institute).
- Fritz Kampers as The Bavarian
- Gustav Diessl as Karl
- Hans-Joachim Moebis as The Student
- Claus Clausen as The Lieutenant
- Jackie Monnier as Yvette
- Hanna Hoessrich as Karl's Wife
- Else Heller as Karl's Mother
- Carl Ballhaus as Journeyman butcher
- Wladimir Sokoloff as Purser
- BANDMANN, Christa & HEMBUS, Joe: Westfront 1918. In: Dies.: Klassiker des deutschen Tonfilms. Munich: Goldmann 1980, pp. 19–21 ISBN 3-442-10207-3
- VANDEN BERGHE, Marc, La mémoire impossible. Westfront 1918 de G.W. Pabst. Grande Guerre, soldats, automates. Le film et sa problématique vus par la 'Petite Illustration' (1931), Brussels, 2001 – text online in www.art-chitecture.net/publications.php 
- Westfront 1918 at the Internet Movie Database
- Westfront 1918 at allmovie
- Senses of Cinema Article on the film
- Jeremy Arnold on the film, for Turner Classic Movies