While only Westfront 1918 is set during the First World War, it and Kameradschaft are about the madness, futility and trauma of that conflict. Set in the final months of the war, 1930’s Westfront 1918 is Georg Wilhelm Pabst’s first sound film.
Kameradschaft, released the following year, depicts a group of German miners rescuing their French counterparts from a tunnel collapse. Having previously shot Nosferatu, Spione, and Pabst’s own Diary of a Lost Girl, Westfront‘s cinematographer, Fritz Arno Wagner, works with Charles Métain to build a world of expressionist shadows, violent lines and unnatural angles. Physical space and visual order are inverted as a metaphor for the fever-dream madness of war. White hands protruding from the mud take on a sickeningly perverted sense of peace, whereas the living become like ghouls.
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