Netflix is continuing to build on its library of German content, on top of the likes of Dark and Unorthodox with its reported acquisition of a big-budget German adaptation of All Quiet on the Western Front. According to Variety, the film will be directed by Edward Berger, perhaps best known in the American market for directing multiple episodes of AMC’s The Terror, and will star Daniel Brühl of Inglorious Basterds, The Alienist and Captain America: Civil War.
The adaptation is reported to have one of the biggest budgets ever for the German film industry, with production set to begin in March. The adaptation was scripted by former Washington Post journalist Ian Stokell, along with actor Lesley Paterson. It is of course based on author (and WWI soldier) Erich Maria Remarque’s novel All Quiet on the Western Front, first published in 1929, which remains an essential anti-war classic to this day, frequently included in school curriculums.
The story of All Quiet on the Western Front revolves around teenage soldiers Paul Baumer, Albert Kropp and Friedrich Muller, who eagerly rush off to war only to find that it’s a non-stop cavalcade of horrors. Although these reports say the series is “starring” Brühl, he presumably wouldn’t be able to play any of these leads—our guess would be that he’d be portraying a German commanding officer of some kind. We’d expect to see the lead protagonists played by relative unknowns to the U.S. market, rather than a face recognizable from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
All Quiet on the Western Front was first adapted as a feature film immediately after its publication, and went on to win the Academy Award for Best Picture and Best Director in 1930. It was also adapted once more in 1979 for television, but hasn’t had a major adaptation since then. This will also be the first adaptation of the film actually made in Germany, which director Berger notes was important to him. In the Variety piece, he refers to the film as a “physical, visceral and very modern film that has never been told from my country’s perspective. We now have the chance to make an anti-war film that will truly touch our audience.”