G. W. Pabst

Westfront 1918

Westfront 1918

G. W. Pabst brought the war movie into a new era with his first sound film, a mercilessly realistic depiction of the nightmare that scarred a generation, in Germany and beyond. Digging into the trenches with four infantrymen stationed in France in the final months of World War I, Pabst illustrates the harrowing ordeals of battle with unprecedented naturalism, as the men are worn away in body and spirit by firefights, shelling, and the disillusion that greets them on the home front.

Film Info

  • G. W. Pabst
  • Germany
  • 1930
  • 96 minutes
  • Black & White
  • 1.19:1
  • German
  • Spine #907

Special Features

  • 2K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • Hour-long French television broadcast of World War I veterans reacting to the film in 1969
  • Interview from 2016 with film scholar Jan-Christopher Horak
  • New restoration demonstration featuring Martin Koerber and Julia Wallmüller of the Deutsche Kinemathek
  • Brief audio interview from 1988 with editor Jean Oser
  • New English subtitle translation
  • PLUS: An essay by author and critic Luc Sante

Purchase Options

Special Features

  • 2K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • Hour-long French television broadcast of World War I veterans reacting to the film in 1969
  • Interview from 2016 with film scholar Jan-Christopher Horak
  • New restoration demonstration featuring Martin Koerber and Julia Wallmüller of the Deutsche Kinemathek
  • Brief audio interview from 1988 with editor Jean Oser
  • New English subtitle translation
  • PLUS: An essay by author and critic Luc Sante
Westfront 1918
Cast
Fritz Kampers
The Bavarian
Gustav Diessl
Karl
H. J. Moebis
The student
Claus Clausen
The lieutenant
Jackie Monnier
Yvette, the Frenchwoman
Hanna Hoessrich
Karl’s wife
Else Heller
Karl’s mother
Credits
Director
G. W. Pabst
Screenplay by
Ladislaus Vajda
From the novel Four Infantrymen on the Western Front by
Ernst Johannsen
Photographed by
Fritz Arno Wagner
Photographed by
Charles Métain
Music by
Alexander Laszlo
Edited by
Jean Oser
Art direction by
Ernö Metzner
Sound recordist
Karl Brodmerkel
Sound editing
W. L. Bagier Jr.
Produced by
Seymour Nebenzal

From The Current

War Veterans React to the Realism of Westfront 1918
War Veterans React to the Realism of Westfront 1918

On the fiftieth-anniversary commemoration of the armistice that ended World War I, the French television program Les dossiers de l’écran showed G. W. Pabst’s Westfront 1918 to a group of veterans and asked for their reactions.

Inside Criterion / Sneak Peeks — Feb 2, 2018
Westfront 1918: War Is Hell
Westfront 1918: War Is Hell

In his first sound film, silent-era master G. W. Pabst captures both the familial camaraderie and everyday brutality of life in the trenches.

By Luc Sante

On Film / Essays — Jan 30, 2018