This is a comparison between the TV Version and the Director's Cut (both included on the German Blu-Ray released by Concorde).
- 27 cuts
- Difference in time: 1438,7 sec (= 23:59 min)
The world-famous novel written by Erich Maria Remarque was adapted into a movie in 1930 - one year after it was first released as a book. In 1979 the version this report is about was made for TV. There are several well-known actors involved, such as Ernest Borgnine, Donald Pleasence, and Ian Holm. Even though the 1930 version is the more valuable version - due to the political currentness at the time - the version from 1979 is still an interesting movie for any fans of the genre.
In several European countries, the movie was even shown in theatres (imdb names at least release dates for the Netherlands and Finland, as well as non-European countries like Colombia), however, for this release the producers trimmed the movie down and cut out roughly 25 minutes of footage. The German DVD as well as the Blu-Ray which was released recently include both versions of the movie, even though the titles are a little misleading. The uncut version that was made for the US TV was named "Director's Cut", while the European movie version was named "TV Version". Even though we adapted these titles for the sake of convenience, the report will still mostly talk about the "uncut version" and not the "Director's Cut".
The missing footage is not of too much importance for the plot, however, every now and then shows more details about the characters that can come in handy (for example Paul's family situation and Katczinsky's motivations), or come across as being entertaining (for example the additional footage of Ian Holm as Himmelstoss). A lot of inner conflicts and tensions between the characters become clearer in the original version, which is especially noticeable in the second half during Paul's and Albert's hospitalization.
All in all, the "Director's Cut" is clearly the better version.
A big point of criticism: it seems as if the "TV Version" on the German Blu-Ray is not entirely identical with the Version that was shown in cinemas. There are a lot of rough cuts (without any differences in time of a few frames that originates from the usage of a different master) and every now and again there are jumpcuts that are noticeable even for lay persons. It is more than unlikely that something like this was handed in for a screening in cinemas. Instead it is much more likely that the shorter cut of the movie was a reconstruction of the cinema version on basis of the uncut original version. So here you have another reason for sticking to the "Director's Cut"!
Time designations are listed as follows:
"TV Version" / "Director's Cut"
13:29 / 13:29-15:45
After Kantorek talked to Paul, there is the first extension. We see him with Katczinsky and others at the serving counter. They are all hungry and hope for a double portion of food.
Katczinsky says that if they had more sleeping facilities, being at war would not be all that bad. The other soldiers also name more food and women as improvement suggestions. Katczinsky slangs the cook Heinrich who does not want to give them food before all 150 people are there whom he cooked for. Since the soldiers know that some of the others are already "pushing up the daisies" they are already looking forward to a double portion.
A lieutenant comes by, praises the cook, and says that such food was great, especially since they were in war. When he leaves, Heinrich still hesitates and Katczinsky gets a little more angry. He says that he preared food for the second company, thus he deserves to eat. Heinrich retreats and while he fills up Katczinsky's plate, the latter demands a double portion.
20:03 / 22:20-22:22
Paul talks about prosthetics a little longer. He says that they could help Franz, since they are assembled directly to the muscle.
22:22 / 24:41-24:54
Paul's parents say goodbye to him a little earlier. Behind him, Franz' mother appears and asks him if he has a second.
22:57 / 25:29-25:31
Paul and Franz are shown slightly longer.
25:19 / 27:53-30:07
The young soldiers strut around Himmelstoss a little longer and make fun of him. He says that he is only a reservist while they make fun of his mustache. Then they steal his hat and toss it back and forth.
After that follows a scene inside Paul's parents' house. They have dinner and the father says grace, praying for protection for Paul. Then he analyzes the situation for Germany in the war for his younger son. At that time, it looks quite good for them: Russia was already defeated, France and England were soon to follow - he doesn't expect the USA to enter the conflict. He concludes the analysis by saying that they should be jealous of Paul for fighting in such a victorious war.
26:48 / 31:36-32:10
After the first greeting the uncut version shows a speech of the staff sergeant. He welcomes the young soldiers and tells them that during the next ten weeks they will become German soldiers. After that, they will be sent to the front-line to fight for the German emperor.
27:37 / 32:59-33:06
Himmelstoß lets the soldiers stand still and then stand at ease several times.
29:48 / 35:18-35:29
The soldiers march a little longer. Himmelstoss sends them to the shanties and tells them that he will be back in 30 minutes for an inspection. After the next order the soldiers go away.
30:51 / 36:32-38:57
Himmelstoss walks past the group with a critical look on his face. When he arrives at Josef, the latter can't hold back a sneezer. Immediately, Himmelstoss tells him to run the hill back up. This game is repeated several times - whenever Josef comes back, Himmelstoss tells him to do it again. When Josef wearily falls to the ground, Paul comes to help him.
During the next scene we see Paul running up and down a staircase - apparently, he is punished for helping Josef.
40:58 / 49:04-50:04
Katczinsky walks around with the young soldiers and tells them that they could hear heavy artillery (which is indicated by loud noise in the background). However, they should not be scared, since the target is behind them. During the three impacts they have between five and ten seconds to run away. Additionally, one can hear the missiles from miles away.
However, a more important noise is the "ssss" like the sound of a mosquito. This noise is caused by the so-called "Daisy Cutters". Once you hear that sound, you only have three seconds left to flee. Thus, it is important to bank on one's instincts: no hesitations, quick movement, quickly going to the ground when one hears noises nearby.
45:19 / 54:24-54:40
You see the soldiers walking around with flamethrowers (as well as the consequences). Paul comments this modern engeneering marvel by saying that a smart man invented something so that they could kill each other easier.
50:10 / 59:31-59:51
The car drives around a little longer. Paul is supposed to push up the cables at the right time.
52:25 / 62:06-62:09
After Josef said that he will booze for three days when the war is over Paul says that this was probably the most intelligent answer so far.
52:50 / 62:34-63:23
More soldiers talk about their future plans. Paul says that he wants to become an engineer. He considers himself lucky since he has a specific plan of what to do. Detering is also pretty sure about his future: he wants to go back to his farming life. He also looks forward to see his wife again.
Tjaden says that all he wants is to be left alone by Himmelstoss. Leer gets in and tells them that he wants to have sex with several different women. When the others tell him that they are talking about future professions, he says that he will simply make this his job.
53:03 / 63:36-64:17
They ask Westhus what he wishes for his future. He also thinks about intercourse, more exactly a big woman. When being asked about occupational perspectives he admits that he likes the army quite well: Food, beds, fresh laundry, and the possibility to go to a bar in the evenings.
58:29 / 69:43-70:15
After another sequence with Himmelstoss, the scene on the battlefield starts earlier. We see the trenches for the first time, followed by a comment by Paul - he tells the others about tasty Edamer cheese. Since the others know that they only get this cheese if they are sent out into the hell of the front-line war, they can't really enjoy their meal. It's quite noticeable that Katczinsky seems to lose his humor because of the difficulties that are to be expected.
78:03 / 89:49-95:47
A longer cut: roughly 6 minutes - and thus 3 entire scenes - were cut out.
The emperor talks to the soldiers a little longer. He holds out the prospect of medals and tells them that they have adhered to the tradition of German soldiers and that they will soon will be victorious for the homeland.
Subsequently you see the soldiers going inside their rooms. One of them enthusiastically talks about the emperor. Kat is a little more critical and asks if teh emperor was really forced to go to war, or if it were the general who initiated it. Also, they should watch out for their uniforms, since the next soldiers will inherit them. Then he says that the Germans fight for the fatherland, while the French fight for the motherland - only the best will win. The Jewish soldiers don't think that this is too patriotic. Kat responds in a quite cynical way about this term (the true patriot does not think, he dies on the battlefield). The conversation then turns to Himmelstoss who just got a medal. Kat considers him to be the true German soldier, since he runs back and forth as he is told to. The last thing he needs to do is dying like a true German soldier. Tjaden feels insulted by this but Kat just says that no one - not even the emperor - knows what exactly it is that they are fighting for.
Himmelstoss is standing in the door and Paul asks him in. He sits down and listens to the rest of the conversation with a quite sceptical look on his face. One says that the French country insulted the Germanan country. Kat immediately stultifys this, since a French mountain probably did not insult another one. Kat cannot remember any negative experience with the French. He thinks that they rather fight this war since it is useful for someone. The generals for example might get famous through it.
At this point the conversation is interrupted by Leer coming in and talking about Vitry Le Bois. It is a French village which they can visit as a holiday destination for seven days. The younger soldiers are quite happy about this but Kat just turns around in his bed indifferently.
The scene continues outside. They are standing in front of a poster and look at the beautiful woman on it. Paul asks how old she might be and guesses that she is 17. Albert daydreams that she probably takes a bath several times a day. After Paul ripped away the other half of the poster which showed a man, Leer and Tjaden accompany them. The former says that the woman on the poster looks like his first girlfriend Helga. Paul and Albert leave, while Leer kisses the poster-woman's mouth and grins while touching her crotch.
Overall: 358.6 sec
78:33 / 96:17-96:23
The souldiers shout after the women (in a pretty bad French) a little longer in order to keep their attention.
78:44 / 96:34-96:46
Paul is supposed to ask them what they plan to do tonight. He continues his stuttering conversation.
78:53 / 96:55-97:00
Some more clumsy shouting.
79:22 / 97:30-97:49
At this point there is an ugly jumpcut during the shot of the girls and the original version explains why: originally, the movie cuts to the guys. Paul translates for Albert that the girls are willing to let them come over. But he refuses to do so, since there are guards nearby. Leer tells this to the girls by signaling it with some gestures.
95:19 / 113:45-115:03
After the man was lead away from Paul's room (and probably brought to the dying room) there is another episode of Paul's hispital visit, accompanied by his off-screen comments.
He walks through the hallway and says that he is already albe to walk up and down. It hurts him to see that Albert is still severely wounded, especially since the latter is jealous about Paul recovering much better. At the same time, Albert is embarrassed because of these feelings.
Paul goes through the hospital a little longer and lists several injuries of the other patients. Since this is only one of several institutions he asks himself how many hospitals have to exist in Russia and France. Everything that the humans do and know seems to be senseless as long as such conditions are possible.
97:50 / 117:34-118:08
Another ugly jumpcut, thanks to the sloppy reconstruction of the cut version: Paul changes his posture from the same perspective since the dialogue in between (including the cut to Albert) are longer.
At first, Paul adds that Albert will certainly be sent home soon. Meanwhile, they push Franz past the door; he enthusiastically tells them that he is back. He mocks the infamous dying room and then they push him along. Paul uses this situation to encourage Albert a little more.
103:53 / 124:11-124:35
Paul's mother continues (at first off-screen) to talk to Paul about his return - his beloved currant jelly is already waiting for him. Paul wants to know where his father is and she responds that he is still working.
114:24 / 135:06-136:17
Paul brings his mother to her room and continues to talk to her.
He says that she is going to get well soon and that she should not send him food anymore since soldiers get enough to eat. At the moment the family will need the food more than he does. When he gets out, the mother says that she made some new underwear from wool for him. Paul promises to take it with him and wishes her a good night.
118:31 / 140:24-140:37
Tjaden tells Paul that the deceased Mueller said to him that he could have "them". The camera pans down and we get to know that he talks about Mueller's boots.
124:51 / 146:57-148:49
Another jumpcut: of course, Kat does not immediately stand back up again to get carried out of the hospital. Instead, Paul talks to him a little longer.
Kat says that he lost his pipe and Paul calms him down by lighting him a cigarrette. They remember the time that they met each other - Paul was greenhorn back then. Paul says that they could still do something when the war is over, for example drinking a glass of whine. He asks for his adress which he never got during the three years of war - Paul wants to give him his immediately. Kat seems to feel that he loses his strength, thus he suggests that they march on right now.