One of the more exciting trends coming from film makers in recent years is the boundary pushing of war movies. The sample size may be small, however the impact of each film in it is massive.
Not too long ago we were gifted with the Sam Mendes directed epic, 1917 a World War I film shot to look like one long take. Following two young characters as they navigate war torn Europe, encountering danger at every turn, without as much as a single cut (I know there's at least one but that's not the point) is far more captivating then a traditionally shot film. While this is merely one person's opinion, I must say with 1917 I found it difficult to look away at any given moment. Cuts give you the impression that things are changing, there's movement and there's shifting scenes as characters move from point A to point B. However, the long cut technique makes you fixate on each step in a continuous path. It makes you feel as though you can't leave or look away because you're going to miss an important part of these characters' journeys.
While not war movies, a similar effect was made in the films Birdman and The Revenant with long continuous shots locking you into your seat. Of course both of these films are the sumptuous result of Alejandro González Iñárritu and Emmanuel Lubezki but the technical allure married with the plot and characters makes for fantastic films.
Fast forward to 2022 we are given another epic World War I film that, while not in the same technical school of the long continuous shot, is still a breathtaking technical phenomenon. All Quiet On The Western Front is a German film based on the 1929 novel of the same name that follows a group of young German boys that enlist in the German Army due to an enamored view of war. Believing that they will go and deliver eternal glory to Germany, Paul (Felix Kammerer) and his friends are immediately met with the horrors of war, specifically trench warfare as they go to the front lines. Over the ensuing 2 hours of runtime, Paul and his friends' lives are slowly taken by the machines of war and all the terrors it bestows on the world.
All Quiet On The Western Front is not only undeniably true to the anti-war messaging in the source material, but it is effortlessly beautiful in its depiction of such horrid events. The technical mix of sound, cinematography, and set design is nothing short of astounding. Director Edward Berger surrounds you in a cocoon of exquisite sound mixing and shot selection that, similar to Luzbeski and Iñárritu's technical flair, keeps you firmly planted during your viewing.
On top of the visceral beauty Cinematographer James Friend delivers, the story is so well prepared and acted by the cast the result is haunting to say the least. Starting the film with the cycles of silence and violence, with the German officer taking the name of the previous uniform owner off it plants the imagery of countless nameless deaths. Rounding the cycle out with Paul's death, mere seconds before the armistice goes into action, and the young soldier not collecting his name tag only solidifies the themes shown in the first ten minutes.
In relatively recent news this is Germany's official submission for Best International Feature at the Academy Awards this year and I really hope for the best for it. Not only do I believe it should be nominated in the International category, but in Sound and Cinematography which might be a steep climb.
When it comes down to it I can't say enough about how technically resplendent All Quiet On The Western Front is and I hope it is remembered as such.
This movie starts with such a duality of emotion it shocks you to your core. One moment you're in this silent bliss of nature, checking out an adorable sleeping family of foxes, while the next moment your thrust into the throngs of war watching a young soldier on the front lines. The changes happen so quickly with death numbers increasing at an insurmountable rate you're horrified at what your watching. Meaning the anti-war themes are landing appropriately.
Well now that you know what exactly you're up against with this movie, as I did when I heard the blasting Netflix logo DUN DUN, let's get you that brew.
To offset the visceral images and horrifying story associated with the Great War I decided this was a great opportunity to try something a little on the sweeter side. The Samuel Smith's Brewery Organic Chocolate Stout is the sweetest little slice of heaven you could ever ask for and is perfect for the task at hand. That task being trying to have the sweetness stave away the horrifying thoughts of the unrelenting machines of war and the political powers that will sacrifice any number of nameless troops for an infinitesimal amount of glory. A tall order indeed.
But, fret not because the Organic Chocolate Stout from Samuel Smith's is sweeter than I could have possibly anticipated! It was light and crisp which at first was a strange pairing with the sweet chocolate flavors of the stout but after a few sips it becomes oddly refreshing. The chocolate flavors definitely overpower the classic roast malt flavors of a stout but it isn't too uncomfortable or brain melting of a sweetness.
This beer would also pair well with some good old fashioned horror movies. Next time you're watching The Blair Witch Project just keep sipping from your fountain of cocoa comfort before you shit your pants at the ending.
If anything the beer will make you feel better about it.
Organic Chocolate Stout Stout - English | 5% ABV Samuel Smith's Brewery @samuelsmithsbrewery