It isn’t often all that newsworthy that the first trailer for an upcoming film has been posted online – unless it is for a new Star Wars movie or an over-the-top superhero romp. In those cases, the first trailers can generate clicks at light speed, and such was the case on Tuesday when a two-minute, twelve-second peak for an upcoming Netflix original dropped on YouTube.
Within hours, the short teaser clip had generated more than half a million views. The clip soon was shared across social media.
What is also as noteworthy about this trailer is that it doesn’t involve any superheroes, and while CGI is likely present, this is far more of a story-driven film than an action-pack tale.
Moreover, the few spoken lines are in German!
The trailer posted on Tuesday was Netflix’s remake of All Quiet on the Western Front, based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Erich Maria Remarque.
An Anti-War Tale
The novel has been described as one of the first true anti-war stories. It tells the gripping tale of a young German soldier on the Western Front during the First World War. Paul Bäumer (Felix Kammerer), is a young German who joins the army with lofty dreams of adventure, heroism and national pride. His and his friend’s initial euphoria of war quickly fades, and they must fight for their lives in horrific conditions.
The original novel was subsequently banned in Nazi Germany for its anti-militaristic views.
All Quiet on the Western Front | Official Teaser | Netflix
“It is a physical, visceral, and very modern film that has never been told from my country’s perspective — it has never been made into a German-language film,” director Edward Berger (Deutschland ’83 and Patrick Melrose) told The Hollywood Reporter when the film was first announced.
“We now have the chance to make an anti-war film that will truly touch our audience,” Berger added.
Germany has already selected All Quiet on the Western Front to represent the country in the 2023 Oscar race in the best international feature category. The film will have its worldwide premiere at the 2022 Toronto Film Festival on Sept. 12, and it will debut on Netflix on October 28.
The fact that the film’s trailer has racked up the eyeballs so quickly is actually somewhat noteworthy. The First World War has largely failed to connect with audiences, and apart from Sam Mendes’ 1917, most of the films released about the conflict in recent years have come and gone with little notice.
All Quiet on the Western Front may connect with audiences, however.
“This is different as it is a timeless story,” explained Doran Cart, senior curator at the National World War I Museum in Kansas City, Missouri.
Cart added that the museum did publish an illustrated version of the novel in 1996, and has a long connection with Remarque’s novel.
“As long as it is done well, and keeps to the novel it should be well-received by the audience,” Cart continued. “What the viewer needs to remember is that this was an anti-war novel, but Remarque was a German soldier who actually fought in the war, and a lot of what he saw is what he wrote about.”
The story of All Quiet on the Western Front may lack the gimmicks found in 1917, but it is also presented from a German perspective. Moreover, unlike the 1930 film starring Lew Ayres – which went on to be the first film to win the Academy Awards for both Outstanding Production (Best Picture) and Best Director – or the 1979 made-for-TV version starring Richard Thomas, this one is also in German.
The trailer may not have made that latter part clear – and it is unknown if Netflix will offer a dubbed version. However, on YouTube and other social platforms where the trailer has been widely shared, the comments have been largely positive.
“Being a WWI historian, it is the accuracy that I most care about,” added Cart. “Some of the more recent films have been more about the storytelling than the events.”
Apparently, those who have seen the trailer couldn’t agree more.