The project is understood to be among the biggest-budget films to ever come out of Germany, with production set to begin in March. Former Washington Post journalist Ian Stokell and producer and actor Lesley Paterson penned the script, which is based on the classic novel about World War I by former German infantryman Erich Maria Remarque, published in 1929 and taught in curricula around the world for its sobering account of the futility of war.
Remarque’s book was previously adapted by Lewis Milestone shortly after its publication, famously winning the 1930 Academy Award for best picture and best director. A Golden Globe-winning TV movie from Delbert Mann followed in 1979.
Rocket Science handled global sales on the new adaptation, which will add to Netflix’s burgeoning catalogue of German content, which includes hit series “Dark” and “Unorthodox.”
The London-headquartered Rocket Science and Amusement Park picked up rights to the film back in February, around the Berlin Film Festival, with Amusement Park on board to produce the anti-war drama. Berger’s previous directing credits include “Patrick Melrose,” “Jack” and “Deutschland ’83.” Lead Brühl, the star of films including “Rush” and the forthcoming series “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” is also attached to executive produce.
Remarque’s story follows teenagers Paul Baumer and his friends Albert and Muller, who voluntarily enlist in the German army, riding a wave of patriotic fervour that quickly dissipates once they face the brutal realities of life on the front.
Paul’s preconceptions about the enemy and the rights and wrongs of the conflict soon crumble. However, amid the countdown to Armistice, Paul must carry on fighting until the end, with no purpose other than to satisfy the top brass’ desire to end the war on a German offensive.
Earlier this year, Berger called the project a “physical, visceral and very modern film that has never been told from my country’s perspective.” Indeed, the film is unique in originating out of Germany, as previous adaptations have come out of the U.S. and U.K.
“We now have the chance to make an anti-war film that will truly touch our audience,” said Berger.
The film will be produced by Malte Grunert (“The Aftermath,” “Land of Mine,” “A Most Wanted Man”) of Amusement Park, and Daniel Dreifuss (“Sergio,” “No”).
Netflix declined to comment on this story.