Common Sense Note
Parents need to know that this anti-war epic from the 1930s digs into the physical, psychological, and emotional damage that war wreaks on soldiers in great detail. Soldiers are wounded and die, sometimes in agony, sometimes in a bloody mess, and sometimes slow and painfully. The war scenes are graphic, but don't compare in gruesomeness to more modern fare, and there's something about watching the black-and-white movie with old-fashioned characters that lessens the impact of the violence. That said, it's still intense and not for kids, though older teens can probably handle it. The soldiers occasionally talk about women and allude to sex. In one scene, several soldiers bring food to French women in exchange for (offscreen) intimacy.
Occasionally the soldiers (all male) discuss women longingly -- in one scene several men look at a poster of a woman and talk about her body and how they'd like to date her. In another scene, several men meet a few French woman and exchange food for offscreen sex.
Brutal war violence throughout -- and that's the point. In one scene a soldier has stabbed an enemy soldier and then regrets the act as the man slowly dies lying in a trench next to him. He begs forgiveness, promising to take care of the man's family, all while sobbing with guilt, fear, and grief.
Occasional "hell" and "damn." Lots of yelling at others, sometimes insultingly -- like calling another soldier a "yellow rat."
The overwhelming message is that war for war's sake is wrong. It damages the lives of young men beyond what most people can understand. The film shows how propaganda and patriotism are used to romanticize war and argues for a more realistic understanding of fighting. The film depicts post-traumatic stress disorder way before there was a name for it, and shows men crying, frightened, and under enormous stress, which is unusual for a movie of this time.
Drugs / Tobacco /
Several scenes with drinking, sometimes to severe drunkenness. These scenes almost always serve to illustrate the darkness of the war, and rarely look enjoyable. Occasional smoking of pipes, cigars, and cigarettes.