YMMV: All Quiet on the Western Front

  • Anvilicious/Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: War. Is. Hell. Especially to modern audiences, who are far more used to the treatment of war as something truly awful. However, this was an anvil that really needed to be dropped, hard, on a lot of heads during the 1920s, especially in Germany.
  • Banned in Germany: As noted above, due to it's anti-war and perceived anti-German messages, both the novel and the film were banned in Nazi Germany during the 1930's and 1940's. Even during the brief run the film had on German cinemas, the nazis, led by Joseph Goebbels threw stink bombs and released white mice on theaters to disrupt the viewers.
    • Between 1930 to 1941, this was one of many films to be banned in Australia by the Chief Censor Creswell O'Reilly.
    • The film was also banned in Italy and Austria in 1931, with the prohibition officially raised only in the 1980s, and in France up to 1963.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: Young man who believes in victory and glory, the homefront who is believing that they can win the fight: In the 1930 film, it becomes very apparent that the war spirit has not died yet.
    • The experience of making the 1930 version hit star Lew Ayres especially hard, and he became a pacifist. This came back to harm his career somewhat during World War II when, as general call-ups started to hit Hollywood as well, he sought to become an unarmed combat medic, a specialty that did not yet exist. The draft board could only offer him conscientious objector status, and an undeserved reputation of being a coward. He was fired from the popular Dr. Kildare series of films (the series was retooled into stories about Lionel Barrymore's Dr. Gillespie) and was unemployable for a couple of years until circa 1943, when the Army did begin to allow pacifists who wished to be medics to join without undergoing weapons training. He served in the South Pacific, which as anyone can tell you, was not a theater for cowards.
  • Ho Yay: In the 1930 movie, in the scene where Paul is comforting Kemmerich after Kemmerich loses his leg, is very heartwarming, and also very shippy.
  • Lighter and Softer: Compared to Johnny Got His Gun, another famous anti-war novel by Dalton Trumbo; this has led to many schools using All Quiet on the Western Front in curriculum over Trumbo's version due to Remarque's novel (in spite of its graphic imagery and downer tone) being less soul crushing and disturbing than Trumbo's novel. Also, Remarque was a famous critic of a totalitarian regime while Trumbo was a supporter of one, and Trumbo's work overplayed its hand beyond what was supported in history because it made the (plenty troubled but still democratic) Western Allied armies look worse than the German military under an authoritarian police state did in All Quiet.
  • Magnum Opus: Widely thought to be Remarque's greatest novel.
  • Narm: In the 1979 film, the scene in which Paul catches a random soldier from the other side and stabs him...and proceeds to watch him for ten straight minutes (in real time) while the man just lays there dying with a goofy expression on his face. Possibly a commentary on how it was a fellow human being that is being killed for a pointless war, but still absurdly executed nonetheless.
  • Nightmare Fuel:
    • The horrors of the war are depicted in a brutally realistic fashion. The fact that this stuff actually happened should be enough to terrify anyone. There are descriptions of gas attacks and soldiers suffering from injuries, such as their faces being blown off. And then there's the fact that your friends could die any day....
    • There's a brief scene where a hospitalized soldier attempts suicide by shoving a fork into his chest, around where his heart is. Since he hasn't got enough strength to drive it deep enough, he proceeds to take a boot and use it as an impromptu hammer. Fortunately, he is restrained before he can damage himself too badly.
    • A Real Life example for the 1930 movie. When it came out, people still thought World War I was the War to End All War. Then another one broke out ten years later. So the young boys who saw this when it came out, thinking that the world will never have to experience such horrors ever again, grew up to be the young men who fought in an even more destructive conflict. Once this fully sinks into you it is heartbreaking.
  • Seinfeld Is Unfunny: The themes can look dated, because many other war novels and films repeated them.
  • Signature Scene : Paul's DeadHandShot at the end., Paul trapped in the shell hole with a dead French Soldier and the attack on the German Trenches by French troops., but especially the French infantrymen getting mowed down by the machine guns.
  • The Woobie: Paul at the end of the film and the book. He lost every last one of his friends, and he can never become the person he was back home before the war.