All Quiet on the Western Front is one of those classics more often referred to and talked about than read. It’s one of those books which doesn’t require reading to know the plot, and skimming through the book it almost feels like familiar territory. The book is eminently readable, and despite its brevity, deals with a wide variety of aspects of wartime life, both specific to the Great War and in general. Despite its age, the book has lost none of its meaning, and whilst it proves to be an important work historically, in dealing with everyday German experiences in the Great War and reactions to it during the Weimar years, it is also an enjoyable read and one that should certainly be read more often. It is a simple story told through the eyes of a lad only nineteen years old, pressured into signing up by a jingoistic schoolmaster, who is hardened, desensitised and churned up by the horrors of trench warfare in the Great War.
I recently caught a TV screening of The Boys from Brazil, a film adaptation of Ira Levin’s novel, concerning the nefarious actions of Dr. Josef Mengele in South America, and his pursuit by a Nazi-hunter presumably modelled on Simon Wiesenthal. Certainly a rather motley cast, with Laurence Olivier showing why he is so often cited as amongst the highest echelons of English-speaking acting, whilst James Mason poorly attempts to cover up his stiff accent. Still not entirely sure what to make of Peck’s performance.
Regardless, the film is entertaining, even if you’ve heard the twist previously as I had. Produced slightly before Mengele’s actual death in Brazil in 1979, it reminded me of a German film I’d read about entitled Nichts als die Wahrheit, which portrays the fictitious events of Dr. Mengele’s trial as he returns to German, a sick, old man. Sadly, I was unable to track the film down on the Internet, and at least according to this website the film is currently only available on VHS. Hopefully that situation will be rectified before too long, but if anyone knows where or when it might be published on DVD, please leave a comment.
Morgen fliege ich nach Karlsruhe-Baden. Es wird mein erster Besuch in Deutschland seit der Wiedervereinigung sein. Letzes Mal habe ich noch vor der Berliner Mauer gestanden und mein Reisepass trug einen Stempel der DDR. Die Zeiten haben sich geändert!
Ich werde dort bei meiner wunderschönen Freundin in Freiburg bleiben, so dass dieser Blog Eintrag für einige Zeit der letzte sein wird.