Even hours of rain and grey clouds over Los Angeles could not depress the mood in the Villa Aurora. "I'm thrilled and excited," says Lesley Paterson, the screenwriter of the nine-Oscar-nominated war drama "All Quiet on the Western Front."
The story of how the Scotswoman, who lives in California, had her adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque's novel filmed is as unique as it is Hollywood-ready. Together with author and songwriter Ian Stokell, Paterson told the German Oscar reception on Saturday, she had acquired the film rights to "All Quiet on the Western Front" 16 years ago.
"I had read the book at school and just found it strong," recalls the 42-year-old. With her writing partner Stokell, she set about writing a screenplay for Remarque's war novel. For two years they tormented themselves with historical context, narrative style and the betrayal of a generation, Remarque's theme. Then nothing happened, for 14 years.
Homecoming in Los Angeles
Stokell and Paterson searched in vain for sponsors, performers and a studio. She attributes the fact that she didn't give up to her past as a professional triathlete. "I'm used to being persistent. On my bike rides through France, Germany and Great Britain, I came across memorial plaques everywhere with thousands of names of fallen soldiers from the First World War. I felt like it was time to talk about them," Paterson says.
In order to be able to pay the annual fees for the film rights, she kept her head above water with odd jobs and competed in triathlons again and again – in 2015 after a fall during a test run even with a broken shoulder. Five years later, the time had finally come. The producer Malte Grunert called Paterson in Los Angeles from Berlin and asked if she wanted to shoot "All Quiet on the Western Front" in German for Netflix. The rest is German Oscar history.
Tonight, Grunert, director Edward Berger, their leading actors Felix Kammerer, Albrecht Schuch and Daniel Brühl, cinematographer James Friend, composer Volker Bertelmann, known as Hauschka, and other members of the cast and crew walk the red carpet in front of the Dolby Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard, which is champagne-colored at the 95th Academy Awards. For Paterson, it will be a kind of homecoming. A few years ago, the screenwriter was already at the Oscars – but at that time as a waitress at Wolfgang Puck's Governors Ball.
Like the only Oscar candidate with world championship titles as a triathlete, Frank Petzold reached the finish line the day before the award ceremony. The Wuppertaler, who has been nominated by the American Film Academy for the Oscar in the visual effects category, does not expect any great chances for tonight. "The fact that we are in the race and can compete with 'Avatar' and 'Top Gun' is an honor," says Petzold. "The nomination is the most important thing. Then you belong to the club."
To celebrate the day, he bought a tuxedo – dark blue with black stripes. Meanwhile, over spinach balls, melon and La Croix Gratiot, Albrecht Schuch remembers his hesitation to take on the role of soldier Stanislaus Katczinsky. Schuch had not read Remarque's novel and found the subject of war difficult.