Milestone's portrayal of Paul Bäumer's experiences on the Western Front depicts the brutality and mental anguish of war. The number of holds barred? None.
Splayed across Milestone's epically sized sets, men are mowed down by curtain fire, shredded by shrapnel, and beaten to death in hand-to-hand combat.
Following Remarque's original novel, Milestone doesn't simply focus on the bloody spectacle of war, but also careful shows the personal and mental anguish suffered by the soldiers.
Setting the film from the perspective of a soldier on the ground, Milestone doesn't provide dates, battle names, or other historical facts…because such information wouldn't be on a soldier's mind.
Without dates and other war-related facts, Milestone's film is too abstract to be effective.