All Quiet on the Western Front (1979)

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Released 14-Feb-2002

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category War Main Menu Audio
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1979
Running Time 122:58
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Delbert Mann
Studio
Distributor
Lord Grade
Magna Home Entertainment
Starring Richard Thomas
Ernest Borgnine
Donald Pleasence
Ian Holm
Case Click
RPI $19.95 Music Allyn Ferguson


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    All Quiet On The Western Front is a made-for-television remake of the 1931 Lewis Milestone classic. It was made in 1979 and like the original is based on Enrich Maria Remarque's personal story about life as a German soldier in the trenches of the Western Front during World War I.

    Richard Thomas (he was John-Boy in The Waltons) stars as Paul Baumer, a young man just graduated from school who loves to draw wildlife and read poetry. Despite these peaceful pursuits, he and his classmates are whipped into patriotic fervour by their passionate teacher Kantorek (Donald Pleasance), who extols the virtues of defending the Fatherland from the hordes of Frenchmen on the front. All the boys enlist in the army and are soon shipped off for basic training. It is here they meet the evil and sadistic trainer (is there any other sort) Himmelstoss (played by Ian Holm - yes Bilbo Baggins before he got the hairy feet). He has the lads marching and slogging through mud and dishes out all manner of extremely unfair punishment for even the most minor misdemeanour. He is the archetypal drill-sergeant, though one that has become a tad clichéd over the years.

    With training complete, the boys finally make it to the front line, and fall under the command of Stanislaus Katczinsky (Ernest Borgnine). He is a much fairer and more paternal leader and teaches the boys the important things, with the most important lesson of all - that of staying alive - foremost in his teachings. There are numerous skirmishes and encounters with the French and slowly the casualties mount. With his friends dying around him, Baumer returns home to visit his dying mother but finds himself unable to settle back into civilian life easily and is eager to get back to the front.

    The anti-war message is strong throughout this film, showing that the 'other' side of the conflict had human emotions the same as the Allies and that war really is a waste of time. Unfortunately, any war film that is rated PG is unlikely to feature many authentic looking battle scenes, and this is no exception. Explosions are plentiful, but the soldiers all seem to die the same way, with a quick scream, before flinging arms in the air and falling over. Others are shot without a trace of blood, and there are no lingering scenes of dead bodies.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This is a made-for-television film (and with that, a made-for-television film filmed in the late 1970s) and it is presented in the full screen aspect ratio of 1.33:1. It does not feature 16x9 enhancement.

    This is not a super sharp transfer, and is pretty much what one would expect from a television broadcast some twenty odd years old . Shadow detail is handled well with no loss of clarity. There is a reasonable amount of grain throughout the whole feature but low level noise is absent.

    Colours are bright, perhaps a little too bright on occasions. Skin tones also do tend be a little red at times. There are no other problems with bleeding or oversaturation.

    I saw no MPEG artefacts. There are quite a few examples of aliasing scattered throughout. The usual suspects are the culprits with some shimmer on the ground at 5:49, shutters at 13:31, and roof tiles at 93:22. There is even a moiré effect on one of the soldier's long-johns at 30:54. Film artefacts are present in quite numerous quantities. Most are the usual small spots or nicks, but there is an occasional hair or two that is quite a bit larger and more noticeable.

    There is only one subtitle stream present;.English for the Hearing Impaired. They are quite accurate and nicely presented.

    This is a single layered disc only, therefore there is no layer change to navigate.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Only one soundtrack is present, an English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono effort. It is fairly harsh with little fidelity on offer. Obviously there is no separation at all across the front speakers. Dialogue comes across well, though it does have a tinny sound on occasion. There are no audio sync problems. There is very little else to say about the audio. It's a twenty year old made-for-TV movie, and it sounds like one.

    The score was composed and conducted by Allyn Ferguson. It is fairly standard for this genre with lots of drums and brass instruments.

    There is obviously no surround channel nor subwoofer use.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Main Menu Audio

    Not really an extra. The film theme playing over a static menu.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    From the information that I can find, this is exactly the same as the Region 1 version.

Summary

    The budget was obviously limited for this production, and on occasions it shows. As a result, it is a little difficult to take the whole thing seriously. The scene featuring the poisonous gas and the apparent mercy killing is the best example of a poorly and cheaply executed scene. In saying that, it was refreshing to see a war story from the 'other' side so to speak, and while not in the class of Das Boot, there are worse ways to spend a couple of hours on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

    The video quality is what can be expected of a 1970s television show, but is no match for a decent feature film.

    The audio is flat and lifeless with little fidelity on offer. It does the job in unspectacular fashion.

    The extras? There are none.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Monday, September 02, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDLoewe Xemix 5006DD, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Calida (84cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationHarmon/Kardon AVR7000.
SpeakersFront - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
1930 version - wolfgirv