As far as historic movies in this year’s Oscar race go, none of them beats All Quiet on the Western Front. Netflix’s anti-war epic about the horrors of World War I received many awards and nominations since its release, but is it actually based on a true story?
All Quiet on the Western Front is an adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque’s seminal novel of the same name, originally published in 1929. It’s told from the vantage point of the fictional German soldier Paul Bäumer, and we get to experience the extreme physical and mental trauma that the soldiers witnessed during the war through his eyes.
Since Bäumer didn’t really exist, it would be a mistake to describe All Quiet on the Western Front as a true story, but many of the events we get to see on screen are rooted in reality. The novel’s writer Remarque was a World War I veteran, and he drew inspiration for this book from his experiences in the Imperial German Army.
Some of the characters in All Quiet truly existed, including German politician Matthias Erzberger and French general Ferdinand Foch, who were entrusted to sign the armistice between Germany and the Allied Powers. This storyline wasn’t present in the book, and this is one of the most significant differences between the two.
Despite being met with generally positive reviews, Netflix’s adaptation drew criticism for certain historical inaccuracies in terms of fighting scenes, including the inaccurate portrayal of certain weapons such as flamethrowers and barbed wire installations.