Spring 1918 in a British officer’s dugout on the western front. Young, inexperienced lieutenant Raleigh discovers that his sister’s fiancé, Captain Stanhope, is now his company commander. Although the horrors of war have turned the latter into a heavy drinker, he is still a conscientious soldier. He is ready to hold the lines before the expected German offensive until the bitter end, sacrificing himself and his men as necessary. But it is only with reluctance that he follows orders to send Raleigh and his companions on a reconnaissance mission that will almost certainly end in death ... There are virtually no battle scenes in this film version of the English play; it is rather more an “intimate drama in the trenches”. Instead it presents a searing and realistic portrayal of the attritional effects of trench warfare, focusing on people who are “trying to do their duty amidst agony and confusion” (opening title). Although Nazi propaganda leader Joseph Goebbels praised it in 1931, saying it was “a good film. Without sentimentality. War as an inner experience”, it was banned in 1933 for its “subversive influence on the people’s willingness to defend themselves”.
100 min · Black/White · 35 mm
Conrad VeidtTheodor LoosFriedrich EttelViktor de KowaWolfgang LiebeneinerPaul OttoJack Mylong-MünzReinhold BerntWilly Trenk-Trebitsch
Cando-Film GmbHBerlin, Germany
Film Print: Deutsche Kinemathek, Berlin