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Mimi Leder to Direct New 'All Quiet on the Western Front' Adaptation

by
July 26, 2011
Source: Deadline

Mimi Leder / All Quiet on the Western Front

She's been away from big screen for a while, but now director Mimi Leder (The Peacemaker, Deep Impact, The Code, U.S. Attorney) is making her return. Deadline reports Leder has signed on to direct All Quiet on the Western Front, an adaptation of Enrique Remarque's WWI trench warfare novel. It was adapted once before in 1930 and won Best Picture, but they're taking another crack at it. The script was written by Ian Stokell and Lesley Paterson. If all goes as planned, production will start in late 2012, likely in Europe, depending on financing. "We need a battlefield and an old village so we'll go where the financing takes us."

The novel is about the intense and terrifying action of 1918 trench warfare that traumatizes a young and idealistic German soldier on the Western front. Leder goes on to explain her interest in this new version, being produced by Sliding Down Rainbows Entertainment (ohh yea), and why she was so drawn to it:

"Even though the original film was made in 1930 at the advent of the talkies, I was moved by its depiction of the terrible senseless brutality of war," Leder said. "With this version, most of it takes place in the last 24 hours of the war. WWI fighting was brutal, hand-to-hand and ugly, and it practically wiped out a generation of young men. What is so compelling is the catastrophic levels of violence, this mind-numbing savagery, and what happens to a boy who in the journey to becoming a man has to become an animal. War destroys the humanity of this young man, stripping away his ability to feel, and making him act like a beast. Taken with the emotionality of how this young boy joined the war out of nationalism as many of our boys do to keep America safe, there is a message here about what happens to them and the politicians who are making war."

Mimi Leder recently worked on HBO's "Luck", as well as on "ER" over the years. If you remember, there was report last year that Daniel Radcliffe was the frontrunner for this very project. Deadline doesn't mention Radcliffe or any actors, but there's certainly a chance he's still in the mix. Leder says that "there is an opportunity to make a great film about war, but it is also an anti-war film, an un-romanticized version of war and its consequences." This certainly sounds interesting and I'm curious to see a new take on All Quiet on the Western Front, but with Steven Spielberg about to show us his version of WWI with War Horse this fall, I'm not sure this will be able to live up to that, but you never know. We'll keep an eye on it anyway.

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  • Lando
    so will this be made as the original based on a german soldiers POV? I cant say Ive read the book but the 1930 film is still a brilliant film! Im against remaking most films but this is one that is very relevant to our world right now! There is a lot of dialogue that runs through it that is so today, you would think its being read by someone at fox news or discussed at a bar last night. This is a good story to bring back around. Too bad it wasnt any sooner..
  • Cyrus
    This will actually be the third adaptation. The first remake of the 1930 film was in 1979 and was generally pretty good, if a little schmaltzy. This seems like a total waste to me. Not only are they changing the plot, by moving it to a 24 hour period in 1918, but they are making a film that has already been done twice. And if you really care about 1918 from the German perspective you can still watch the classic German film Westfront 1918. Why not adapt one of the dozens of brilliant novels or memoirs of the Great War that haven't made it to the big screen?  Mimi Leder doesn't seem much like she knows her history either. The Great War was not a brutal hand-to-hand fight. It was an industrial war largely fought by artillery. I'm sure we can all look forward to the usual (and false) First World War clichés of constant mud, evil officers and machine-guns annihilating mass charges of bayonet-wielding infantry. 
    • Staatz
      There was some hand to hand stuff... ever read the book?
      • Cyrus
        Yes, I've read it twice. There certainly was some hand-to-hand fighting, especially during trench raids. However my argument was that Mimi Leder appeared to be describing the entire war as hand-to-hand, which would be woefully wrong.
    • Anonymous
      cyrus - i can refer you to 1/2 dozen books that covers WWI.  and there WAS a lot of mud.  not to mention sinkholes caused by shellholes that filled with water -these were deathtraps that men fell into and couldn't get out of -which resulted in MANY drowning deaths. then there were the rats that the men had to live with in the trenches........ and there WAS a lot of men mowed down by mounted machine gun emplacements.....they inflicted huge amounts of fatalities - to suggest this didn't happen on a large scale is ridiculous......no question artillery inflicted terrible losses - but your view of the conflict seems very limited.
      • Cyrus
        I said "constant mud" not "no mud". Mud was certainly an issue but it was hardly a permanent feature. Many films appear to feel that the entire Western Front looked like the Third Battle of Ypres. The drowning in mud which you mention was a feature of places like 3rd Ypres but was an extremely rare way to die. Similarly I didn't say that machine-guns were not lethal. What I was saying is that artillery was the primary killer and the dominant weapon. What I was critiquing, again, was the tendency of war films to falsely depict attacks as futile suicide missions where soldiers charge without the benefit of tactics or supporting fire and are mowed down wholesale by machine guns. Whilst machine-guns were hugely important they usually weren't decisive, except against poorly trained or unsupported troops. My concern, as a historian, is that most people take their history from films and that films set in the Great War tend towards banal anti-war sentiments and the repetition of the worst aspects of the war which creates a deeply flawed view of the war, creating a false perception.  So for example, the 2010 Australian film BENEATH HILL 60 repeats the usual clichés of constant rain and the consequent mud despite the fact that it is supposedly set during the Battle of Messines, where historically the weather was so dry that the British attack actually caused large dust clouds. 
        • Anonymous
           you wrote *"My concern, as a historian, is that most people take their history from films and that films set in the Great War tend towards banal anti-war sentiments and the repetition of the worst aspects of the war which creates a deeply flawed view of the war, creating a false perception." * -  well said, cyrus! thanks for clarifying your previous post. agree on the artillery being the primary killer - however; machine gun nests are what led to the maze-like network of trenches all over europe (that can still be seen today). if i were asked - i would say that artillery, along with the MG nests were what defined battle in WWI. as far as mud - what's interesting to me is, when it is prevelant on the battlefield, how it combined with the myriad of shell holes to create those pits of stagnant water that became so deadly. i'm with you on this film - i hope they don't romanticize the movie or provide stereotypical views that lean toward the inaccurate. there needs to be an excellent (and accurate) WWI film.......i hope this ends up being just that.
  • The Douche
    I love war movies. I'm a big enthuisiast of History. I see many war films. We have plenty of Vietnam films, WWII films, which I like to watch, Civil War films. But I notice we don't have allot of WWI films. Why is that? Or maybe I just have seen any of interest. Can anyone recomend some, besides of course Western Front.
  • Lando
    Paths of Glory is another great one! (with plenty of hand to hand action!) lol... and its Kubrick so you cant go wrong

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