In this sequence from the World War I drama “All Quiet on the Western Front” (nominated for nine Oscars and winner of best film at the BAFTAs), young German soldiers who were expecting an exciting adventure get a cruel dose of reality.
It’s the soldiers’ first night on the front and they are on night watch when they come under mortar attack. They retreat to a bunker, but things get worse from there.
In an interview, the director Edward Berger said that the sequence was pivotal in the film because it is the moment when the characters’ sense of anticipation “changes to complete fear and desperation.”
“Inside the bunker,” he continued, “we wanted to create claustrophobia. So a lot of the shots are quite close, quite dark.”
He said the scene was first rehearsed and blocked in a gym with the actors before shooting it on a soundstage.
“The sound does a lot of the work in this in the sequence,” Berger added, “the way it crushes those wood panels and you feel like this thing is going to collapse and bury these boys alive. That’s the feeling they had, and that’s the feeling we wanted to give to the audience.”
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