Westfront 1918 & Kameradschaft

Two films from German filmmaker GW Pabst, best known for his Weimar-era classics Pandora's Box and Diary of a Lost Girl, both of which starred the iconic Louise Brooks

Film Review by Lewis Porteous | 22 Aug 2017
Film title: Westfront 1918 / Kameradschaft
Director: GW Pabst
Starring: Fritz Kampers, Gustav Diessl / Alexander Granach, Fritz Kampers
Release date: 24 Jul
Certificate: 15

GW Pabst is perhaps best known to modern audiences for his collaborations with Louise Brooks, the bob-haired flapper whose iconic style has endured long beyond the films in which she starred. Associated with glamour and progressive sexual politics, the director's fascination with grime tends to get overlooked. Nowhere is it more pronounced than in the offerings which make up this double feature. Both Westfront 1918 and Kameradschaft are so steeped in dirt that one may feel compelled to shower after watching.

The former is the easiest sell of the two, boasting a handful of famous images and presenting an alternative view of a familiar subject. The trenches of the Great War are depicted from a German perspective and we're shown the extent to which our own cinema's bad guys suffered in unsparing detail. It's a fascinating counterpoint to the likes of All Quiet on the Western Front, but suffers from pacing issues and a meandering narrative.

Kameradschaft, on the other hand, is stunning. Lean and taut, it shows a rescue party of German miners rallying together in aid of their French peers, trapped underground on the other side of the border. A claustrophobic masterpiece, it points to the inter-war years as a progressive age, the humanist values of which Europe never quite regained. Having survived the transition to talkies, it was fascism that would finally derail the director.


Limited edition O-card (first 2000 copies); both films presented on Blu-ray in stunning 1080p; uncompressed PCM soundtrack for both titles (on the Blu-ray); alternate subtitle options of Kameradschaft authentic to the film’s original presentation in both France and Germany; introduction to both films by film scholar and author Jan-Christopher Horak; 44 booklet featuring a new essay by Philip Kemp, alongside rare archival imagery. [Lewis Porteous]