Watch a Harrowing Battle Scene in ‘All Quiet on the Western Front.’

The director Edward Berger narrates a sequence from his drama, nominated for nine Academy Awards and winner of best film at the BAFTAs.

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By Mekado Murphy

In “Anatomy of a Scene,” we ask directors to reveal the secrets that go into making key scenes in their movies. See new episodes in the series on Fridays. You can also watch our collection of more than 150 videos on YouTube and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

In this sequence from the World War I drama “All Quiet on the Western Front” (nominated for nine Oscars and winner of best film at the BAFTAs), young German soldiers who were expecting an exciting adventure get a cruel dose of reality.

It’s the soldiers’ first night on the front and they are on night watch when they come under mortar attack. They retreat to a bunker, but things get worse from there.

In an interview, the director Edward Berger said that the sequence was pivotal in the film because it is the moment when the characters’ sense of anticipation “changes to complete fear and desperation.”

“Inside the bunker,” he continued, “we wanted to create claustrophobia. So a lot of the shots are quite close, quite dark.”

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He said the scene was first rehearsed and blocked in a gym with the actors before shooting it on a soundstage.

“The sound does a lot of the work in this in the sequence,” Berger added, “the way it crushes those wood panels and you feel like this thing is going to collapse and bury these boys alive. That’s the feeling they had, and that’s the feeling we wanted to give to the audience.”

Read the “All Quiet on the Western Front” review.

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