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 conflict. The film bears resemblance to its close contemporary, the All Quiet on the Western Front
(1930), an American
production, although is has a bleaker tone. 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 Nazism, the film quickly became considered by the German authorities as unsuitable for the people, notably for its obvious pacificism, and for its clear denunciation of the total and unuseful abomination of war. This was an attitude that Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels would soon label as "cowardly defeatism".
Some shots from the film were used for scene-setting purposes in a 1937 BBC Television adaptation of the play Journey's End.
- BANDMANN, Christa & HEMBUS, Joe: Westfront 1918. In: Dies.: Klassiker des deutschen Tonfilms. München: Goldmann 1980, S. 19 - 21 ISBN 3442102073
- 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), Brussel, 2001 - text online in www.art-chitecture.net/publications.php