Daniel Brühl: “We Germans know better than anyone – there are no winners in a war” | Daniel Brühl

WWhen he first saw the new adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque’s 1928 novel All Quiet on the Western Front, Daniel Breuer was immediately intrigued. “It was one of the most important books we read when I was growing up. I think almost all of us read it in school and it left a lasting impression on us. When I grew up, I Felt I had to read it again.” So being able to make it into a film in its original language for the first time, nearly 100 years after its publication, was “an immediate interest” for Brühl.

The German-Spanish actor is best known for his role in Goodbye, Lenin! (2003), Inglourious Basterds (2009) and Rush (2013), where he played the late Formula 1 great Niki Lauda. He said that after 25 years in the business — and now being able to pick his own job — it wasn’t the size of the characters that drew him to the movies, but a myriad of other factors. In Edward Berger’s “Silence,” Brewer said there was “a desire to tell this story out of genuine moral interest”. He is one of its executive producers, working with his friend Malte Grunert, and in 2015 became a partner of the production company Amusement Park Film.

All Quiet on the Western Front (German: Im Westen Nichts Neues – or “Nothing New in the West”) is a devastating tale of school leavers who are about to come of age and are lured into their ranks by the promise of adventure and glory. Comrades on the French front. There, they were immediately struck by the terrible truth of the war. The lead role of Paul Bäumer is played tenderly and brilliantly by newcomer Felix Kammerer, a 27-year-old Viennese stage actor who has never performed on camera before.

“He was used as a scapegoat for the failure of peace”: Daniel Brühl on Matthias Erzberger. Photo: Netflix

Breuer’s character isn’t the original Remarque — the real-life liberal Catholic politician Matthias Erzberg, who in 1918 persuaded the German powers that, after four years of punitive war, hundreds of With thousands of lives lost, it’s time to admit defeat and admit defeat. Negotiate a ceasefire with the French.

“He was a very admirable, interesting figure in German history because he was so persistent. He didn’t let himself be intimidated,” Brühl said. In 1921, while serving in the army, Erzberger, who had lost his son to the Spanish flu, was murdered by nationalists. Brühl said. He admits that he knew very little about him at school. Only now has Erzberger’s achievements been recognised in Germany.

Bruhl said there was “a lot of pressure” to make the film a success — especially since they’re dealing with one of the most successful German-language books of all time, followed closely by the wildly popular Lewis landmark film 1930 (winner of two Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Director) and later Delbert Mann’s acclaimed 1979 TV work. Milestone’s film, while a hit in Hollywood, caused an anti-Semitic uproar in Germany. When the Nazis came to power, it was banned from movie theaters, and Remarque’s novel was burned on a bonfire of books that propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels considered “degenerate”.

Daniel Brühl (right) as Niki Lauda in Rush and Chris Hemsworth as James Hunt.
Daniel Brühl (right) as Niki Lauda in Rush and Chris Hemsworth as James Hunt. Photo: Pictorial/Alamy

“I grew up watching war movies. For the most part, they were American or British and contained a positive heroic story,” Brühl said. “But from a German point of view, the genre of war films is practically non-existent: our point of view is full of sadness and shame because of our perpetrator characters. But to capture the essence of the story, an absolute anti- The war novel, which showed that there were no winners in the war—as we Germans knew better than anyone—felt very important. Remark said his aim was to write a postwar story and an antiwar story that offered To those who survived the war and who he survived the war, but their lives were forever damaged.” It’s a story that needs to be told over and over again, he insists. “It might be interesting to share this German perspective with the world now.”

Some remakes don’t have an air of vanity surrounding them. Shooting during a pandemic is a struggle. Its timing seems disturbing and its themes shockingly relevant since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine eight months ago. “Watching the scene with General Friedrich (De Vestreso) – he could not face the humiliation of the ceasefire and sent his German troops for one last bloody confrontation before the ceasefire was officially in place – I am very impressed with the Shocked by the resemblance to Ladimir Putin, sitting in Moscow and sending people to the front. Also, see today how easy it is to get into people’s minds even in a world so interconnected and globalized, national How fast ism and populism can return.”

The film is close to a novel, using Remarque’s reportage-esque event-telling approach, including gruesome depictions of violence, little imagination, and flashes of dark wit. But it also inserts an extra dimension, by signing a ceasefire on a small blue train car in the forest near Compiègne in northern France, which puts the film in a recognizable historical context. A stark portrayal of the vain political decision to allow young people to be used as cannon fodder.

Daniel Brühl at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year.
Daniel Brühl at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year. Photo: Loïc Venance/AFP/Getty Images

“In terms of movies, in terms of storytelling, you can say the horror of leaving the front lines and going to the comfort of a train is actually a relief,” Brühl said. “But it’s also shocking to see all these guys in polished uniforms eating croissants and drinking tea with fine bone china and arguing about whether and how to sign this peace treaty knowing they The longer it takes, the more lives will be lost.”

For Brewer fans accustomed to his youthful smile (though he notes that he’s now 44 and “in the middle of a midlife crisis”), it might be a shock to see him play the double-chinned, sweaty man, Middle-aged man (39 years old, but looks much older). “I had to put a pillow under my shirt because I didn’t have time to put on the necessary weight, and I had to play another role right after that,” he said. He was speaking in a hotel room in Boston, where he was filming his screen adaptation of The Collaboration, in which he played the famous art promoter Bruno Bischofberg, who was the first to suggest artist Jean-Michel Basquiat’s collaborator with Andy Warhol. Afterwards, he’ll be shooting “Rich Flu,” with Macaulay Culkin and Rosamund Pike, “a wild script and hybrid, There’s both satire and thriller where a deadly disease starts killing all the super rich and then people start desperately trying to get rid of all their wealth.”

In the US, he is known in ways that non-native English-speaking actors rarely do, Brühl is often described as the global average, or Hollywood’s most polyglot actor (he is multilingual). He and Christoph Waltz (Christoph Waltz) Waltz), the Austrian actor who appeared with him in Inglourious Basterds, occasionally amused by it. “There is a certain similarity in how people perceive us because we speak more than one language,” he said. But he added that it’s “definitely an advantage. It’s good, for future characters, when they can’t put you in a box.”

He just finished filming Lone Scherfig’s film Teller, about a girl with a gift for storytelling, in which he plays the role of a diplomatic European who wins the trust of a Chilean mining family. The upcoming film for Rich Flu takes place on the road from his home in Spain (he also lives in Berlin), which is useful as he increasingly tries to shape his work to fit his two years young children.

Creating his own project also helps in this regard; last year he made his directorial debut in Next Door (Nebenan), in which he played a self-engaging self. For his next film, he will once again collaborate with Austrian literary genius Daniel Kelmann, “I Want to Explore Psychological Horror”. But he won’t say much. “It’s too early,” he said.

All Quiet on the Western Front is on Netflix, from October 28.

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