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All Quiet on the Western Front


  • Blu-ray
  • German VHS
Release: May 20, 2018 - Author: Imbor Ed - Translator: Tony Montana - external link: IMDB
All Quiet on the Western Front is a US war picture by Lewis Milestone and based on the German novel by Erich Maria Remarque with the very samt title. In addition to the here compared movie from 1930, there is also a US TV movie from 1979 for which a comparison between the TV Version and the Director's Cut is already online (click). Unlike the TV remake, the situation regarding the numerous versions of the 1930 adaption, none of which is actually complete by the way and some of the scenes are simply lost I might add, is rather complicated.

The Versions of All Quiet on the Western Front [1930]

Complaining about the TV Versions the people in charge had cut harshly and altered according to their own desires, director Lewis Milestone wrote in a letter from 1964: "I have not seen the current version of ALL QUIET, but if the film runs 101 minutes I can easily imagine what the vandals have done to it."

It should be pointed out that he was pretty satisfied with the very first version - with a length of approx. 170 - 180 minutes. It possible though that he remembers a few things wrong because after all, it has been over 30 years and the American Film Institute lists the premier in April 1930 with a length of 152 minutes. This is the silent movie version though which was edited at the same time the sound version was because not any theater had sound back then. In the UK, a version with a legtn of 147:04 minutes was submitted but 2:14 (additional) minutes were cut in order to get the requested rating. The French Version is censored as well. For instance, the scene with the dying French guy in the bomb crater is missing.

In 1939, there was a revival - sound version only though and it was heavily cut as well. A precise duration could not be found but the number of reel was allegedly reduced from 14 to 10. This means the movie ran less than hours and approx. 30 minutes were cut. Subsequent versions, particularly for TV, were even more cut.

In Germany, a version with a length of approx. 124 minutes was dubbed in 1930. However, the version in theaters was only 85 minutes long which makes it the shortest version ever - more than one hour is cut. In the 50s, the movie was dubbed a second time - based on a version with a length of approx. 120 minutes. In 1984, a German network had the movie reconstructed and dubbed for the third time. This time, the movie has a length of approx. 135 minutes in PAL and this is also the version on the German tape used for the following comparison because it should be the longest version available. In 1990, the movie was once again restored by another German network. Based on the version from the 50s, the missing scenes were inserts from the version the other network had edited beforehand.

The last restoration of the sound version, conducted by the library of US congress, resulted in a version with a length of 133 minutes (in theaters / in NTSC / on Blu-ray). Most DVDs and every single Blu-ray release worldwide are based on this reconstructed version. Since many scenes are either completely lost or in incredibly bad shape after all those years, cuts were inevitable - in comparison to the original versions from 1930 that is. The Blu-ray is what the following comparison is all about.

German VHS: 135:36 minutes (in PAL)
German Blu-ray: 133:25 minutes

The Blu-ray contains 14 scenes with a total length of 2:12 minutes that are missing on the German tape. On the other hand, the German VHS contains 16 scenes with a total length of 7:52 minutes that did not make it on the Blu-ray. Moreover, there are a few frame cuts every now and then or rather redundant alterations as result of reel changes. Those will be ignored in the following comparison, even though some which are a little longer than 1 second.

The Blu-ray also contains the reconstruction of the International Silen Movie Version but that will not be an issue in the following comparison.
2. Min
In addition to the entire credits and title cards, the introduction is different as well - at least, that is the case on the German tape resp. it lacks a small part in the middle.

3. Min - Blu-ray
The Blu-ray shows Mr. Maier longer when he calls the postman over.
3 sec

14. Min - VHS
At the beginning of the exercise scene, Himmelstoss makes the recruits crawl in the mud. The final 6 seconds of that scene are a repetition of the shot of Himmelstoss. In other words, the shot is twice on tape. The second time, the tilt up is being cut short though due to a cut. As a result, it at least appears as if it was a different shot - as the last two screenshots perfectly illustrate.
32 sec

16. Min - VHS
Himmelstoss bullies his troup. He makes them change trains and they have to crawl through an underpass in order to do so. This is being represented by the tables in the middle of the room. Himmelstoss enjoys the position of power he is in.
46 sec

27. Min - Blu-ray
A scene with Katczinsky telling something to his boys is longer on Blu-ray. The dialog itself is also on the tape though, except it is a little displaced.
6 sec

28. Min - VHS
After they get off the truck, there is an additional shot of the company. Barely recognizable hence no screenshots.
4 sec

29. Min - VHS
Katczinsky has his men pick up the iron clamps, the barbwire and stuff which is a preparation for the night mission during which they are supposed to strengthen the defensive lines.
47 sec

37. Min - VHS
Four of the soldiers are being ordered to relieve the guards. Of course, they have to leave the bunker and get to the frontlines where the trenches are in order to so. They look at the no-man's-land with fear and they twitch every single time an enemy shot gets passed them close.
74 sec

39. Min - VHS
The lieutenant longer when he takes care of Kemmerich who panicked and tried to run off but lost his cover in the process. He stanches the wound with some white cloth.
17 sec

43. Min - Blu-ray
Additional shot of an MG.
2 sec

50. Min - VHS
The cook is upset that the company still has not gotten there yet.
32 sec

53. Min - VHS
Two portions makes soldiers lazy.
27 sec

57. Min - VHS
Paul and the others pay Kemmerich a visit at the military hospital. Their arrival at the hospital is longer.
19.5 sec

64. Min - Bu-ray
The scene at the military hospital is longer.
10 sec

75. Min - Blu-ray
Further artillery hits by the church.
8 sec

76. Min - VHS
The shot of Paul hiding in the bomb crater is longer.
8 sec

78. Min - Blu-ray
More shots of the dying French guy.
4 sec

79. Min - VHS
7 sec

80. Min - Blu-ray
The next morning: The French guy is dead already and Paul checks out whether or not he has an escape route across no-man's-land.
16.5 sec

90. Min - Blu-ray
The German soldiers and the French women longer by the river.
11 sec

91. Min - VHS
23 sec

92. Min - VHS
The soldiers determine who gets who for the night.
49 sec

96. Min - Blu-ray
The gramophone longer while Paul and the French woman are in bed (off-screen only though).
3.5 sec

97. Min - Blu-ray
Once again, Paul and the woman in bed - and once again, off-screen only. He asks for her name. The remaining conversation on the tape is time-displaced.
46 sec

98. Min - Blu-ray
Paul leaves the woman's house and leaves the coat behind.
7.5 sec

99. Min - VHS
The arrival at the military hospital is longer.
15 sec

100. Min - Blu-ray
The wounded and sick longer.
6 sec

100. Min - Blu-ray
The old guy is worried about new patients dying too fast. On Blu-ray, they promise not to.
7 sec

108. Min - Blu-ray
Paul longer in his hometown.
1 sec

108. Min - VHS
Paul longer when he walks up the stairs to his mom. His sister is already waiting there.
36.5 sec

111. Min - VHS
Paul tries to calm his mom down. She is worried about Paul, particularly due to the bad food supply and the dreadful poison gas.
34.5 sec

During the last scene of the marching soldiers and the military graves, music is playing on tape. At the request of the director, there is no music playing on Blu-ray.