Unlike most "message" films which date themselves almost immediately, Lewis Milestone's low-key and
deeply-felt screen adaptation of the Erich Maria Remarque anti-war novel has lost little of it's original
impact. The plot follows a group of young German recruits in World War I through their passage from idealism
to disillusionment. All Quiet on the Western Front is an anthology of now famous scenes: the central
character, Ayres, trapped in a shell crater with a man he has killed; infrantrymen being mowed down to
machine-gun visual rhythms; Ayres' pacifist speech to his astonished schoolmates; and the final shot of the
soldier's hand reaching for a fatal butterfly.