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147: ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ Hints that War Is Bad

January 31, 2023
Notes
Transcript
On this week’s episode, Sonny Bunch (The Bulwark), Alyssa Rosenberg (The Washington Post), and Peter Suderman (Reason) highlight the dumbest Oscar controversy of all time—did Andrea Riseborough’s friends send too many emails on her behalf in helping her secure a best actress nomination?—and try to explain the broader culture war reasons this has blown up into A Whole Thing. Then they review All Quiet on the Western Front, the Netflix original that secured nine Oscar nominations and hints, ever so subtly, that war might be bad. (The message is there, but it’s all subtext; only a keen viewer will discern it.) Make sure to swing by Friday for our bonus episode on antiwar films and whether any of them can truly be “antiwar.” And if you enjoyed this episode, share it with a friend!
This transcript was generated automatically and may contain errors and omissions. Ironically, the transcription service has particular problems with the word “bulwark,” so you may see it mangled as “Bullard,” “Boulart,” or even “bull word.” Enjoy!
  • Speaker 1
    0:00:11

    Welcome back to across the movie all presented by Bulwark Plus. I am your host, Sunny Bunch, Culture Editor of The Bulwark. I’m joined as always by Elizabeth Rosenberg of The Washington Post and Peter SUnderman. Of Reason magazine. Elizabeth Peter, how are you today?
  • Speaker 2
    0:00:23

    I’m Peggy Keene.
  • Speaker 3
    0:00:25

    I am happy to be talking about movies with Friends.
  • Speaker 1
    0:00:29

    First up in controversy, and controversy’s Oscar drama. The biggest surprise from last week’s nominations was the inclusion of Andrea Riseboro in the best actress category for her performance in too Leslie. And I I can almost hear you sitting there and saying her her performance in what? What? Her what?
  • Speaker 1
    0:00:46

    Her what? Her what? And what? And that was a response of many, which in turn led to a flurry of accusations that Riesborough cheated her way to a best actress nomination. She did Hal by stuffing ballot boxes by hacking the servers and rejiggering the results by hiring Russian bots to influence the the electorate now.
  • Speaker 1
    0:01:02

    Not by doing that, not by kidnapping of kids and threatening to blow it up if she didn’t get the nomination. No. She just sent some emails. She didn’t even send some emails. Her friends sent some emails.
  • Speaker 1
    0:01:13

    This whole controversy. Again, it boils down to Andrea Reisbrough and her champions sending emails too aggressively. Apparently, the people who live out in LA have never lived through a Donald Trump fundraising cycle. As one anonymous source told Matt Bellini, it feels like the we were being bullied into voting for Rizarro by the wife of the director of two Leslie. Now, the specific violation alleged here is that her biggest backers named other actresses in their email, please?
  • Speaker 1
    0:01:42

    There’s some question about, you know, who was paying for what for screenings and that sort of thing. It it’s a little bit Byzantine It is the crime of the century, though, you know, all joking aside. This sort of thing in the past has led to sanctions against academy members. It is a thing they take seriously because here’s the the, like, kind of, dark truth about the Oscars. It’s a multi million dollar industry.
  • Speaker 1
    0:02:05

    It’s a it’s a like high eight figure, low nine figure industry. This whole period fuels not only the academy of motion picture arts and sciences, right, which runs the official email server that campaigning films are supposed to use, and costs according to David Poland newsletter twenty thousand dollars to access. But also, frankly, it pays for a lot of the Hollywood trade press. Right? Four year consideration ad campaigns can run between high six and low seven figures.
  • Speaker 1
    0:02:30

    You got a bunch of those movies that are just pouring tons of money into that and into you know, third party people that they’re hiring to help shepherd these campaigns. Right? Screening at theaters aren’t free necessarily, and you have to buy ads in newsletters. Newsletters are the big new thing. Right?
  • Speaker 1
    0:02:45

    You gotta pay to send screeners to people, not just links, but hard disks, you know, people want that disc to hold in their hand. They wanna feel special. They wanna put it out on their shelf and say, look, I’m so important that I got emailed the DVD or mailed an actual DVD about this. I didn’t just get emailed the link. Other words, every step of this process is cost money.
  • Speaker 1
    0:03:03

    Cost money. And there are those who are very mad that Riseboro’s partisans seem who have circumvented that process, and they are covering this annoyance by trying to turn this into a racial issue. Right? They’re suggesting that rice rice burrow beat out either by Lidavis for her work in the woman king or Daniel Debweiler for her work in Till. Academy members live in fear that this is going to spark, an Oscar so white style shaming campaign.
  • Speaker 1
    0:03:26

    They they shouldn’t be really. At least in terms of the actress category, we can talk about other categories another time. But in terms of the actors categories, over the last ten years, thirteen of the hundred nominees for best actresses or best supporting actress than African American, which is like exactly in line with the percentage of African American population in the United States. Right? Compare that a four out of a hundred Asian nominees, three of which came this year, or three or four something like that of the hundred nominees being Hispanic.
  • Speaker 1
    0:03:53

    There are racial disparities at the Oscars for sure. But not really with regard to black actresses. It just there just isn’t, at least recently. Now, this is all a tempest in the tea pot, obviously. No one really cares about this accept as a way to argue about something that they already care about, which is why I’m going to use it.
  • Speaker 1
    0:04:09

    To argue that the email shenanigans and the resulting controversy is good actually. Since it might get more people talking about a movie than nobody saw. I mean, literally, I think it did twenty thousand dollars a box office. It was not a huge VOD yet. Nobody saw it.
  • Speaker 1
    0:04:22

    But now people are talking about they’re like, I gotta see this movie that was so so good that Andrea Reisbrough had to cheat. To get a nomination for best actress. Alyssa, what do you make of the silliness in in particular and the nomination slate just more generally? I
  • Speaker 2
    0:04:38

    tried I read maybe ten articles about this controversy, and it is possibly the dumbest thing we’ve ever bidder on controversies and not
  • Speaker 1
    0:04:49

    drastic. I I find that hard to believe. We
  • Speaker 3
    0:04:52

    did, like, twenty minutes on beam dead.
  • Speaker 2
    0:04:55

    Been dad. I don’t know. I think be dad. Like, maybe that speaks to something deeper in American society, but this is just so dumb. Like, it’s I mean, I understand that you’re not allowed to drive up to, like, the thirteen hundred members of the academy of the acting branches house with, like, large sackfuls of cash.
  • Speaker 2
    0:05:16

    I understand that you’re, like, theoretically not supposed to, like, take that into the desert and, like, have an Ayahuasca ceremony with them? Will they emerge convinced that, like, Andrea Rispro is, like, the most transcendent performance they’ve ever seen? But the idea that, like, the wife of a director of a movie can’t be, like, I just think she was really great. Like, let’s get out there and pull for her guys. This represents some sort of like major ethical lapse in what is sort of a transparently ridiculous and corrupt process.
  • Speaker 2
    0:05:50

    Like, I I just I cannot get my brain around it. And, like, maybe, you know, maybe my brain is just broken on some fundamental level. But reading all of this made me feel like I was taking crazy pills because I don’t live in like the thirty mile zone where people get themselves worked up about this. Stuff. I just again, like, it’s possible that I’m dumb, but I could not get my mind around this.
  • Speaker 2
    0:06:18

    Like, I wrote an entire column about this in the Washington Post. I think it’s a good thing when popular movies are very popular movies are good enough to deserve being nominated for Academy Awards. And I also think it’s good when the Academy Awards, you know, recognize small films or performances in small films that people would not have otherwise heard of. I mean, to my mind, this is an almost an ideal slate of nominees in the sense that the members of the academy recognized a bunch of good popular movies in a way that might make people interested in what’s becoming like an incredibly more abundant cultural event. But they also nominated some people from smaller things.
  • Speaker 2
    0:06:57

    Like, this this is how it’s all supposed to work and you’re throwing like a hissy fit over some emails. I just this this is an industry that is determined to just troy itself. It’s the only thing that I take away from this. Like, it’s just bananas. Look, I think it was a pretty good slate of nominees for both like the acting and the best picture contenders.
  • Speaker 2
    0:07:17

    I really, like, I have no particular complaints. I’m also not someone who develops rooting interests in this sort of thing except for the fact that Nicholas Cage obviously should have won best actor for Pig last year and everything else is Travis State. But yeah, I just I think this is it is so perfect that in a year when the Oscars turn in like a pretty ideal slate of nominations to ensure their own relevance, they immediately collapse into the kind of our candidate that is just simply incomprehensible to people outside of LA. It’s just perfect.
  • Speaker 1
    0:07:46

    Well, I mean, that is that is like the real kind of crux of the matter here is that you have there there’s a there’s a whole kind of cottage industry that is propped up to by by this award season and all that. And they are treating this like water date. Like, this is this is, like, the the But
  • Speaker 2
    0:08:02

    her emails. Well, she’s literally butter emails. But her
  • Speaker 1
    0:08:05

    emails of the of the Oscar season. And Peter, you know, I know that you’re I know that this is a thing that has kept you up late at night for weeks now. You’ve been you’ve been trying to figure out why you were getting so many emails Amandrea Rizarro promising a five times match on your nominating vote and and all the other all the other things. But it it is I think agree with Odissa. I mean, like, this is, like, the way it should work.
  • Speaker 1
    0:08:29

    You should have small things that are good and and and recognized, and to go along with the big things that everybody loved, and we’ll show up to watch.
  • Speaker 3
    0:08:35

    Yeah. I I agree with Alyssa. I find this completely inscrutable. Like, I I just don’t understand what the allegation is because as far as I can tell, Partially, it’s about, like, were the emails a little bit more it’s sort of direct than than is typical of the solicitations for people to to nominate somebody. Right?
  • Speaker 3
    0:08:55

    But it it actually seems to me to be mostly about resentment for who didn’t get it. Right? That it wasn’t the Olladavis for the Woman King. Without any evidence that if it hadn’t been Rasborrow, that Davis would have gotten it. Whether it’s not it’s not at all obvious.
  • Speaker 3
    0:09:15

    There’s no reason to think that that that, like, if Rizarro had somehow or another declared herself not gonna do the Oscars, I will not take a nomination even right, like, that that the next person was gonna be Davis. There’s no reason to to think that. Unless you think that these things are just divided into slots. Right? That it’s like there’s a slot for a which is That is
  • Speaker 1
    0:09:36

    a black a a kind of discussion that’s happening right now is that there is a there that, you know, well, what why hasn’t Why
  • Speaker 3
    0:09:45

    was there not an African American actress nominated in this category? And, like, I mean, it’s not sort of Voci. It’s happening very explicitly. David Poland says this quite clearly in his news but also, you know, I’ll I’ll read you the the Guardian’s headline about this is race storm erupts after Andrea Rice Burrow’s best actress Oscar nomination. That’s how this is being covered in major publications, not just in, like, little inside the, you know, like, inside the industry newsletters.
  • Speaker 3
    0:10:12

    Well,
  • Speaker 1
    0:10:12

    that’s because I like, people like us can’t understand what what on god’s green earth the folks at the academy are arguing about. So it is simplified into again, as I say, it simplified into a thing that everybody can understand, which is, again, a reducts of the Oscar so white sort of
  • Speaker 2
    0:10:30

    campaign. But is it I mean, is it that people are really mad at Michelle Yo, but don’t wanna go after? I mean, I just part of what is so strange to me about this, and I wanna stipulate this, I have not seen the woman came, but, like, it was a modestly reviewed, you know, set me hit, but I don’t think there anyone who’s walking around me like, this is the performance of Iola Davis’ career. Like, I it it’s sort of came out of nowhere from me that people would feel She was very
  • Speaker 1
    0:10:58

    good in it. She was good in
  • Speaker 2
    0:11:00

    it. Great. Okay. That’s wonderful. But, like, was there I mean, you know, I didn’t see you know, I’d I it did not seem to me that there was clear consensus that she was on her way to another nomination.
  • Speaker 2
    0:11:12

    And I mean, I think, you know, I wonder, you know, we haven’t talked very much about Danielle Danielle Denweiler until which again was like a fairly modestly reviewed movie where a number of critics are like, this is a very strong performance by an actress that people don’t know very well.
  • Speaker 3
    0:11:28

    My sense is that we don’t understand what’s happening because what’s happening isn’t something that can be understood by by reading the specific complaints.
  • Speaker 2
    0:11:41

    That there is
  • Speaker 3
    0:11:42

    a that there’s a two step happening here is that some people the the people who are most mad, I should say who are, like, who are driving the controversy are upset because Davis didn’t get nominated and that they feel like that is a slight to her and that that is a a kind of a disrespect to black actresses. And so as a result, they have found something that they find a little bit unusual or disreputable about the way that the Adria Rice Burrow campaign was waged. And that that is sort of the pretext for for basically for just feeling like that, like, it is not acceptable to not have a black woman in the in the slight. And you know
  • Speaker 1
    0:12:31

    what?
  • Speaker 3
    0:12:32

    I I don’t agree with that, but I also don’t totally I don’t think that’s a completely insane way to think.
  • Speaker 2
    0:12:40

    Like, if you
  • Speaker 3
    0:12:42

    I mean, if you’re gonna
  • Speaker 2
    0:12:48

    I
  • Speaker 1
    0:12:48

    can see. See, here’s here’s part of the problem in this discussion is I can see you trying to figure out how to say this thing, whatever it is you wanna say. I don’t know, maybe something terribly offensive. But you’re you’re you’re worried. I think you’re worried.
  • Speaker 1
    0:13:01

    And I think that’s that’s part of, like, what drives me bananas about this whole conversation is that, like, it is it is there there is a conversation. As you say, there’s being had like blaring in the tabloids that is trying to make this a very angry conversation. And it I I frankly just think that that is, you know, It strikes me as silly. Let me put it this way. I
  • Speaker 3
    0:13:25

    don’t think it’s totally crazy. I don’t think it’s completely illegitimate to be upset about the way that Hollywood has treated black women historically. Even if in the last decade or two, the nominations have basically averaged out to percentage of population as you point out there. Almost exact. And if you start from if you start from a from a legitimate anger at that, then this slate might feel like like I said, like a sign in some sense of disrespect or of lack of caring or perpetuating that.
  • Speaker 3
    0:13:59

    And that’s not I think that’s not how I feel about this. I don’t you know, that’s not like my approach to this. But I guess I don’t like, you’re trying I’m trying to, like, make sense of this in a way that, like, oh, this isn’t just sort of something like silly and crazy and petty and, like, whatever a bunch of like, a a dispute amongst amongst a bunch of Hollywood people who are inscrutable and you can’t understand them. I’m trying to actually understand it. And like make sense of it in my head.
  • Speaker 3
    0:14:26

    And that’s the bet like that to me, that’s that’s an understandable motivation even if it’s not the way I think about this controversy. Howard
  • Speaker 2
    0:14:36

    Bauchner: Yeah, I mean, I guess then why not get really angry on behalf of Danielle Denweiler who, you know, arguably had, like, the, you know, sort of, the breakout relative to Davis, who’s, I think stature as an actress is extremely well established. Like, why not ask why there wasn’t a similar campaign on behalf of Denweiler? Or, you know, someone who is similarly admired but not known in the same way. You know, the the specific focus on Davis. And the sort of demand for deference there strikes me as strange.
  • Speaker 2
    0:15:10

    I don’t know. I mean, maybe far embarrassed that they didn’t do a better good job of, like, getting out the grass roots, whatever.
  • Speaker 3
    0:15:16

    I don’t know. But do we
  • Speaker 1
    0:15:18

    agree all in all? I mean, we haven’t really talked about the the Oscar nomination since they came out. The the day of the last episode went live. So what what do we what do we make just overall? I mean, I I elicit your pro.
  • Speaker 1
    0:15:29

    I’m basically pro. I thought they were all pretty good. Peter, What was your what was
  • Speaker 3
    0:15:35

    your take on the general slate? Seems pretty fine and normal to me, which is good. And it is it’s like a good set of of nominees in that it is a mix of things that are critically acclaimed and things that are, you know, quite popular, but also basically likes by critics, including an especially Avatar and Top Gun Maverick. I guess it is pretty striking to me the gap between the let’s call them the popular nominees and the critically acclaimed nominees in terms of box office and in terms of visibility. The only the only movie that bridges that gap is everything everywhere all at once.
  • Speaker 3
    0:16:14

    It is the that is the only film this year that was a small budget sort of critical darling out of the, you know, made by indie filmmakers. That also found a popular audience and is and got a a best picture nomination. Everything else was either something that the critics like but that audiences just went and saw in droves or something that critics liked it like nobody saw and it didn’t earn out. And I do wonder I do wonder if, you know, the Oscar nominations, which used to help drive hits. This used to be a thing that we would see is movies would come out in November or December and they would maybe not do huge business, but sometimes they would get pickup because of their nominations.
  • Speaker 3
    0:16:56

    If they were smaller. I do wonder if that effect is still gonna obtain. Right? If if if that is something we are gonna see or if audiences have just so totally tuned out to the awards you know, the awards race that that even nominating Avatar and Top Gun won’t bring people back. And I guess I
  • Speaker 2
    0:17:14

    see I
  • Speaker 3
    0:17:16

    I wonder, I guess, if this sort of inscrutable controversy about Andrea Rice Burrow and to Leslie a movie, which as you said, made less than twenty thousand dollars. Like, literally, less than a full time employee on, you know, like, working at a fast food job in some cities.
  • Speaker 1
    0:17:35

    I think,
  • Speaker 3
    0:17:36

    if I’m doing the math right? Like, really not a lot of money. Like, are people gonna see that as like the big thing that people that the Oscar world cares about, I’d be like, whatever I have no idea what’s going on here. Would
  • Speaker 1
    0:17:50

    be super curious to see if this breaks into the the public consciousness outside of, you know, a semi confused segments like this one. On a general general entertainment podcast. We’ll see. Alright. So what do we think?
  • Speaker 1
    0:18:05

    Just in general, are the nominees the the nominations this year, overall, a controversy or a controversy. I’m gonna go with a list first. They’re
  • Speaker 2
    0:18:15

    a controversy. They’re what happened.
  • Speaker 3
    0:18:17

    Peter, overall non traversing. Biggest
  • Speaker 1
    0:18:20

    controversy since I I can’t even remember when, honestly. I don’t know. It’s a huge huge deal since the flash entered
  • Speaker 3
    0:18:27

    the speed force. Since
  • Speaker 1
    0:18:29

    since Which was
  • Speaker 3
    0:18:30

    the number one crowd pleasing moment in last
  • Speaker 1
    0:18:33

    year. Most crowd pleasing moment of all time. It wasn’t wasn’t rigged by the Russian bot farms. Real real grassroots effort there. Alright.
  • Speaker 1
    0:18:43

    Make sure to swing by board plus on Friday for our bonus episode in which we discuss whether or not it’s possible to make a truly anti war film. Speaking of which, on to the main event, all quiet on the western front. It’s a historical epic from that Flicks and surprise some by nabbing nine Oscar nominations including one for Best Picture. It’s kinda sorted based on the novel of the same way same name by Peter Mehdiow Remark. I I’m I’m German.
  • Speaker 1
    0:19:09

    My German’s bad. All client on the western front opens with what amounts to a short film. You see a scared young man named Heinrich. He’s in the trenches. He watches as his friends go over the top and get shot and killed before he charges into no man’s land and attacks a French shoulder with a spade.
  • Speaker 1
    0:19:25

    Just whacks them right on the shoulder with it. It’s pretty fantastic. Director Edward Berger then cuts to the title card before we see how he Heinrich handles the combat. Though we can kind of guess from the following montage of bodies being stripped of their uniforms and boots they’re sent for repair. And sure enough, there’s Heinrich’s jacket.
  • Speaker 1
    0:19:44

    He’s getting sewn up by a seamstress in a factory somewhere, and then we cut to a group of young men who are excitedly joining the right of the Kaiser’s army. Paul, who was played by Felix Kamer, is too young to sign up. So he forges the signature of his parents. In order to ship off to the front, After a rousing speech, he approaches a table to receive his uniform and he gets any, he looks and there’s a name tag and sure enough it’s it’s Heinrich. It’s poor Heinrich.
  • Speaker 1
    0:20:13

    Paul reports that he’s been given somebody else’s jacket by mistake, and the official lies to him. Tells him while somebody else must have returned it was because it was too small. And then he tears off the name tag and he drops it on the ground and it’s a pile of other name tags, so many tags, so many wasted young lives. I’ll couch what I’m about to say with a series of disclaimers, all quiet on the western front, handsomely shot, great frosty cinematography, superbly acted. But if it had ended there, it would be a shoe in for Best Short Film of the Year.
  • Speaker 1
    0:20:41

    You have the entirety of this movie, the terror of the young soldiers, the ugliness of World War one, the blinding lies of the higher ranks. Right? In this thirteen minute stretch of film, everything after this is unnecessary. It’s just a restatement of what we have seen. A a stretching of that thematic idea into it’s too long.
  • Speaker 1
    0:21:01

    It’s movies too long. Young Paul will become hardened by war as he loses friends as the uncaring bureaucracy choose them up and spits them out for yards of territory. No death is too meaningless or too ironic to show us. No effort to fruitless. Again, I will not deny the artistry of this movie.
  • Speaker 1
    0:21:16

    I will admit to being vaguely annoyed by its insistence. On on its themes. We get it war, bad. There is one artistic choice I will quibble if however the the Oscar nominated score by Volker Volker Birtleman is just a bit much. Like, I I texted you guys this, but it reminded me a little of the score to annihilation.
  • Speaker 1
    0:21:35

    The, like, kind of, blaring distorted notes that we get in the beginning and recurring for I mean, am I am I wrong? Am I wrong? Was it did did that not strike any of the rest of you as weird and not correct for this film. I don’t know. I’m I’m kind of at a loss with this movie because it’s It’s one of those pictures.
  • Speaker 1
    0:21:54

    I recognize the artistry. I appreciate the thematic intent. I feel like it entirely succeeds at what it’s trying to do. And yet, I just was unmoved in annoyed by kind of the whole thing. It’s it’s a weirdly old fashioned kind of prestige picture.
  • Speaker 1
    0:22:06

    Right? A high minded costume drama that reinforces the film industry’s understanding of a complex topic and is nominated for a bunch of films to reward a powerful studio, in this case, Netflix. Peter, what am I missing here? I’m I’m being too negative. I feel like I’m being way too negative about this movie, which I didn’t even really dislike.
  • Speaker 1
    0:22:24

    I thought I was pretty good. Just kind of annoying. I also thought
  • Speaker 3
    0:22:27

    this movie was pretty good, and I agree that in a way it’s on the nose. But war is kind of on the nose. It’s not like it war isn’t bad in a kind of subtle and nuanced way. It bludgens you in face repeatedly with its badness. That’s that’s right.
  • Speaker 3
    0:22:46

    Like, and then and then you die, and then it bludgeon’s another person. Right? Like, that’s how war works. And I I feel like the the the on the nowness of this movie is thematically appropriate. Is sub is appropriate to the subject matter.
  • Speaker 3
    0:22:58

    And it is It wants to say to you that, like, there’s not a debate. There’s nothing sort of poetical about it. You know, except in the sense that, like, the photography is really gorgeous. Instead, it is just a parade of horror and absurdity and there’s no other way to see it. And every single moment in war just proves that over and over again.
  • Speaker 3
    0:23:20

    And it once this is the argument that it is making it. You can’t make that argument if you occasionally stop to have moments where actually, you know, this kind of all makes sense and you can see why people are doing it and here’s a here’s a moment of humanity and heroism like in this. And this is a movie about how you cannot have heroes in war. About the fact that you are engaged in warfare, is inherently unheroic. There’s it couldn’t be.
  • Speaker 3
    0:23:45

    And I think that that is in some ways a little bit distancing. It right. It it creates a separation between viewer and and and story because in like, because ultimately, it’s a story about people who’ve been thrust into something awful and you just have to put up with it. They have to put up with it. And the way this movie makes makes you sort of makes it bearable is by making it beautiful and by ship that by making it or by making the images sort of poetic.
  • Speaker 3
    0:24:14

    But the thing itself is just ugly and unrelentingly so. And it wants to say that’s like that is the experience of war and that is what we that that is, like, we’re gonna make you put up with it, maybe even for a little too long. I agree this movie is in some ways like a little bit too long. Probably ten or fifteen minutes too long. I don’t think though that it should have just cut off, you know, at at the beginning.
  • Speaker 3
    0:24:38

    That’s an interesting idea, but there’s an actual story to tell here about sort of the slow process of of humiliation and of of the horror of it. Right? So bear bear with the Bear with War and trenches warfare in particular for a long time because it it wears you down. Right? It’s not just that it’s this this moment of sort of explosive awfulness and then you die.
  • Speaker 3
    0:25:06

    Although sometimes it is that. It’s often just that it’s that it pulls you into it and you can’t escape and you’re there. You’re there for a big chunk of your life and then maybe it takes your life And so I feel like in terms of what it’s trying to do, the all of the things that you pointed out as you that you were critical of are actually bolstering this movie’s message and its and its point. I I agree. It’s a little bit difficult to watch.
  • Speaker 3
    0:25:31

    It’s a little bit, like, just in terms of, like, just judge does a movie and story a little bit too long and I found it.
  • Speaker 2
    0:25:38

    It’s very
  • Speaker 3
    0:25:41

    blunt and also like it doesn’t let it doesn’t give you those those moments of hope or those moments of heroism that that many war films do where it says where it sort of says that some something humane and you know, wonderful can come out of this. Nope. It just sort of says nothing will because that’s war and especially trench warfare and world war one. And I guess I as somebody who increasingly sort of relates to my, you know, pacifist heritage. Like, I’m not a pacifist in this in a strict sense, I should say.
  • Speaker 3
    0:26:10

    But, like, I I kind of as though older I get. I find myself more and more just like
  • Speaker 2
    0:26:16

    I find
  • Speaker 3
    0:26:19

    myself thinking of you know, sort of just opposing war kind of, like, on principle all the time for almost any reason and just finding it horrific and ugly and not wanting to have any part of it and not finding it in any way heroic, which is not to say that there’s no one who’s ever been a hero in war. I I I appreciated what this movie did, and the craft of it, the the the filmmaking is just immaculate. Actually, even liked the score because it is dissociative and dissident, and it sure reminds you that this whole thing is this sort of grinding ugly process that, like, it’s not gonna it’s never going to be soaring and beautiful. It’s just gonna be oppressive and loud and ugly and brutal.
  • Speaker 1
    0:27:08

    Alyssa, feel good movie of the year. Yeah,
  • Speaker 2
    0:27:11

    obviously. This movie makes two changes from the book. Both that have been sort of lingering in my mind since I’ve seen it. The first is that it eliminates a subplot about Paul going home on leave. And being unable to relate to his family.
  • Speaker 2
    0:27:29

    And in a way, the decision to do that undercuts what seems to me to be one of the very interesting messages of remarks book, which is that war to a certain extent is addictive in an ugly way that it transforms you and makes it difficult for you to relate to civilian life in a way that gives you sort of no choice to go back and keep fighting in it. And in the book, Paul’s death is kind of a release from that. Right? I mean, It’s not that he dies doing what he loves or fighting for what he believes in, but he is afraid of this process that has made him unable to exist outside of a grinding and brutal and unnatural set of circumstances. And, you know, I I saw someone I forget who and I apologize if you’re listening to this podcast and I hear you credit suggest that the Hurlocker is a better adaptation of remarks novel in that sense and that it does sort of you see the protagonist go home, be unable to relate and then return to this sort of forever war zone to fulfill what’s fundamentally an addiction and an ability to fit in.
  • Speaker 2
    0:28:45

    And I think you see that in, you know, in a lot of conflicts. You know, the near times had a good peace out earlier this week about the use of Russian prisoners in the war in Ukraine. And this private military outfit, the the Wagner Group has been recruiting men out of Russian prisons, sending them to Ukraine, kind of as cannon fodder and then letting them when their terms are up, go home on what seemed to be sort of very legally dubious pardons. But having, you know, sort of added additional layers of trauma and social unconditioning
  • Speaker 1
    0:29:23

    on
  • Speaker 2
    0:29:24

    to people who were already you know, had were already outcast by virtue of being criminals who’d been subject to, you know, the gulag like Russian penal colony system. And so, you know, that’s a that message that war sort of addictive and deforming never really gets old. And I think the movie it’s odd to a certain extent that it doesn’t make that decision. And I also have been sort of troubled by the addition of the diplomatic supply. To the movie.
  • Speaker 2
    0:29:53

    Because it underscores that what Paul dies for is really pointless. Right? I mean, you know, he is the final days of his life are, you know, leading up to his death in a conflict that is sort of pointlessly delayed by you know, a back and forth approval process about whether it’s okay to sign a ceasefire. And I think Daniel Brule is quite good in his role as a German negotiator, but the movie also kind of Isaac’s sculptory. Right?
  • Speaker 2
    0:30:24

    I mean, it’s, you know, it’s about Germans trying to stop a war that they were at least partially responsible for. And it’s the clearly, you have characters in the form of this general who’s basically like a professional German militarist. But it does not really grapple with, you know, those sort of larger attitudes in German society or, you know, the German role in starting the conflict. And so it is, you know, it adds to the broader message of futility at the expense of I think a sort of more searing look at Paul’s society’s role in his death. And, you know, it makes the movie a little longer, it adds some dramatic tension.
  • Speaker 2
    0:31:05

    I wonder what this movie would have been like if you cut that subplot out. Look, this
  • Speaker 1
    0:31:10

    is a this is a very kind of American centric view of the film and apologies for that. But I I will say that I I found the whole I found Daniel Brule’s whole, like, We have to end this for the for the, you know and saying to the French, you know, you have to give us, you know, hat you have to give us a good piece.
  • Speaker 2
    0:31:27

    Otherwise, people can live up. People
  • Speaker 1
    0:31:28

    will be angry at you. And, you know, maybe a Hitler will arise. Who did he doesn’t actually say this? But, like, that is the obvious message here. And it just it just made me think, like, what if they made a movie about the civil war and somebody unironically made that argument from the southern perspective?
  • Speaker 1
    0:31:42

    Like, you have to give us a good piece. Or we’re gonna terrorize folks for like a century in the south.
  • Speaker 3
    0:31:48

    Like, I’m
  • Speaker 1
    0:31:49

    sorry, Germany. You got bad terms because you started a bad war. And I am not interested in the, you know, sadness of the German soldier or German politician in that
  • Speaker 3
    0:31:59

    regard. I I just it
  • Speaker 1
    0:32:00

    was a no it was another thing that, like, annoyed me vaguely. And I am I’m glad you brought up the difference between the bookie because I could not remember that from the which I haven’t read in twenty five years. So I was like I was like, was that in the book? Is that a is that a, you know, large portion of it? I didn’t think it was.
  • Speaker 1
    0:32:16

    No. So thank you. Thank you for that. It
  • Speaker 3
    0:32:19

    is somewhat defensive in that in that sub lot.
  • Speaker 2
    0:32:22

    Yeah. And, again, like, all of it is elegant and you know, immaculately done amidst the filth. And it’s just a movie that in some ways, I think works at cross purposes to itself. Yeah.
  • Speaker 1
    0:32:35

    I don’t know. We’re gonna again, we’re gonna talk in the bonus episode about whether or not a movie can be truly anti war, a spoiler just for that. I’m I’m going to argue that this this movie accomplishes exactly what TrueFO says movies cannot, but we can we can discuss more than Were you guys surprised that this movie received some of the, I think, second or third most nominations? Because I it was not really on my radar at all. I I knew it had picked up some of the precursor awards.
  • Speaker 1
    0:33:03

    It feels like somebody at it feels like Hollywood was like, we need to dominate something from Netflix for a bunch of awards. It might as well be this? It
  • Speaker 2
    0:33:12

    also I mean, the what actually feels weird to me is that this movie was nominated. Given the state of the war in Ukraine. Right. I mean, it’s just like the I don’t think that Oscar voters were, like, thinking geopolitically, but It isn’t you know, it’s a movie that is I don’t know. It’s just it was funny to me that this was the movie this was a movie that happened to get in.
  • Speaker 2
    0:33:39

    Well, there is this, you know, very destructive, entirely pointless on the Russian side war being fought with tremendous heroism by Ukrainians. The confluence of those two things has just felt a little strange to me, but that has nothing to say about whether or not the movie is actually disturbing an Oscar. It’s just a funny set of overlapping things. I feel like
  • Speaker 3
    0:34:02

    I started seeing buzz about this film about two weeks before Oscar nominations just with some other some other awards groups giving it more awards. And it does seem like the sort of thing that Oscar voters have traditionally rewarded just in the sense that it is this emaculately made epic kind of sweeping historical epic that is, you know, that sort of has a powerful message that can be reduced to the length of a tweet. Possibly just a frequent
  • Speaker 1
    0:34:36

    even a tweet. Yeah. What’s that? What’s shorter than a tweet? I don’t know.
  • Speaker 1
    0:34:38

    War is bad. Again, it’s, you know, that’s, like, seven characters. Too. There’s some spaces
  • Speaker 3
    0:34:45

    in there. But yeah.
  • Speaker 1
    0:34:47

    Yeah. I mean, it’s whatever. Alright. So what do we think? Thumbs up or thumbs down on I’ll apply it on the western front.
  • Speaker 1
    0:34:52

    Peter. Thumbs up. Alyssa. Thumbs up, although I
  • Speaker 2
    0:34:57

    can’t necessarily say I recommend it unless you’re very specifically in the mood.
  • Speaker 1
    0:35:02

    At Perry Torn, I I like, I my my head says thumbs up, my heart says thumbs down. So I guess I’ll give it a a thumbs up because I’m a man of intellect, not passionate. Wow. You Barry
  • Speaker 3
    0:35:16

    the lead. You get Sunny bunch as a
  • Speaker 1
    0:35:18

    heart. But I’m I I, like, I just it’s I don’t know. We’ll see. Alright. That is it for this week’s show.
  • Speaker 1
    0:35:25

    Make sure to head over to We’ll work for a bonus episode on Friday. Tell your friends a strong recommendation from a friend is basically the only way to grow. Podcast audiences, if you don’t grow, we’ll die. He did not love today’s episode. And if you need somebody to explain to you, the Andrea Riseboro drama, let me know.
  • Speaker 1
    0:35:39

    Complaining me on Twitter at Sony bunch talking to you that it is, in fact, the best show in your podcast feed to see you guys next week.
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