Germany’s Oscar submission from Edward Berger, Netflix’s “All Quiet on the Western Front,” has become a true awards season powerhouse over the past few months, scoring seven BAFTA wins out of 14 nominations. Besides being nominated for Best International Feature (where it’s currently the frontrunner among Gold Derby Experts), the anti-war drama has racked up nine Oscar nominations total, including Best Picture.
Netflix has provided Gold Derby with an exclusive video of the “All Quiet on the Western Front” panel involving many of those responsible for the movie’s success (watch above).
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Moderated by veteran journalist Brian Williams – former anchor of NBC Nightly News and host of NBC’s The 11th Hour – the incredible panel includes director/writer/producer Berger, co-writers Lesley Paterson and Ian Stokell, actor Albrecht Schuch (“Kat”), hair and makeup designer Heike Merker, composer Volker Bertelmann, sound designer Markus Stemler, VFX supervisor Frank Petzold, and producer Malte Grunert.
Williams has covered many actual wars during his tenure as a journalist, so he has great questions for the panelists that reflects the realities of war that remain to this day, going back to the “war to end all wars” in the early 20th Century.
Grunert speaks about how important it was to make the violence in the movie as “unbearably violent” and “visceral” as depicted in Erich Remarque’s novel, because those who survived WWI were forever damaged. It was important for the filmmakers to make the movie accessible to younger viewers, those who might be the same age as the young soldiers that were mentally and physically damaged or killed during that war, despite their eagerness to become soldiers.
Berger states that his decision to spend two years making “All Quiet on the Western Front” was helped by his teen daughter’s reaction to learning he had been approached for the movie, having just read Remarque’s novel in school.
Schuch, who was nominated at the BAFTA Awards, is asked by Williams whether the conditions while making the film were as “horrible and abhorrent” as they appear to those who watching the film. He notes that it convinced him to quit smoking.
Berger notes that even though they shot a scene in the rain with the actors spending 12 hours in soaking conditions, he ended up cutting most of that scene from the film. He thought that the film being in the German language was a superficial issue, but it was crucial for the authenticity. He even told his co-writers that they need to make the movie “more German” due to the history of his country and taking the responsibility for his country starting two wars in the 20th Century.
Williams asks the Oscar-nominated Merker about doing makeup “touch-ups” on the blood, mud and gunpowder on the soldiers while maintaining continuity. Bertelmann speaks at length about his process for creating the film’s overwhelming score, his collaboration with Berger, and how the inspiration of composer John Cage influenced it.
Each of the other Oscar-nominated below-the-line crafts people on the panel talk about their work and what was involved, including Petzold, who notes the problem with visual effects is that his team would only be doing their best job when nobody actually noticed their work.
“All Quiet on the Western Front” is available to watch via streaming on Netflix.
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