Westfront 1918: Vier von der Infanterie. 1930. Germany. Directed by G. W. Pabst. Screenplay by Ladislaus Vajda. With Fritz Kampers, Gustav Diessl, Hans Joachim Moebius. In German, French; English subtitles. 96 min.
On November 18, Martin Koerber, head of the Deutsche Kinemathek film archive, presents new restorations of G.W. Pabst’s revolutionary Westfront 1918 and Kameradschaft. Thanks to state-of-the-art digital restoration techniques, it is now possible to fully appreciate Pabst’s fluid, mobile camerawork, and his experimental use of sound, which was radical for German cinema in the early 1930s. Pabst makes palpable the anxiety and suffering of trench warfare in Westfront 1918, as explosions rain down on the battlefield, leaving the mangled bodies of young men in their wake. Contemporary audiences, no longer able to deny the tragic horrors of the Great War, were also forced to confront the very real potential for history to repeat itself. Pabst’s depictions of antiheroic sacrifice and senseless death were indeed an affront to the Nazis, who banned the film upon seizing power in 1933. Restored by Deutsche Kinemathek in collaboration with BFI; courtesy Praesens Film and Janus Films. DCP.