All Quiet On The Western Front was written by former Scottish triathlete Lesley Paterson

Paterson, 42, was so determined to make the payment that she swam 1 mile one-armed and came last out of the water, 12 minutes behind the leader.

Although she had to tackle the jungle descents on foot, she finished second on the 40-kilometer bike course. Then, in dizzying pain in 40 degree heat, she overtook the leader late in the 10K and won.

“It was just one of those moments in life where you realize you have to move on and find a way to get it done,” says Paterson via Zoom from California. “I couldn’t lift the trophy. I was just in agony.”

The novel was previously adapted into a film, which won Best Production and Best Director at the 1930 Oscars.

Paterson says she was moved in high school by the subject of betrayal by a young generation.

“Growing up in Scotland, there’s this underdog mentality,” she says. “That’s a real left-handed, everyman ethos in our culture where the upper class, we don’t like it, call the shots. I could understand that very well and was then so fascinated that it was being told from the other side – from the German perspective.”

“My biggest mantra in life, and that’s why I’m successful in sport, is to focus on mastering the craft”: The professional triathlete-turned-Oscar-nominated screenwriter Lesley

But nobody in the US, where Paterson lives with the husband of psychology professor Simon Marshall, wanted to support a World War I film about German soldiers.

“It was a nightmare,” she says. “We went to a couple of German directors. They turned us all away because they were afraid of the material – a remake of a classic.

“We brought different casts on board. Then they came off. We have various forms of financing on board. They came off. We had a producer who went to jail and almost took our rights away from him. We just had so many nos.”

Lesley Paterson as a professional triathlete.

Lesley Paterson as a professional

Finally, after an estimated 2,000 emails and phone calls, a British contact forwarded the script to German producer Malte Grunert (A most wanted man), who was also a big fan of the book but had never considered adapting it for the screen.

He saw the potential for a new film and recruited Berger. Netflix Europe came on board and shot it in the Czech Republic.

Paterson describes the answer to All quiet as incredible.

“It’s all very surreal, but at the same time we worked our ass off to come here and went through a lot of adversity,” she says.


She believes support for the film initially came largely through word of mouth on Netflix and then turned into accolades “when people see the real heart behind it, how hard it was to get off the ground, what it means for Germany and the craft involved”.

Paterson, who trains in Queensland and has raced as a professional triathlete in Western Australia, he says Gallipoli, The soldier James Ryan And apocalypse now were among the films they turned to when they were stuck writing the screenplay.

“My biggest mantra in life, and that’s why I’m successful in sport, is to focus on mastering the craft,” she says. “There I find pure joy: to be the best I can be in every moment.

“The same goes for scriptwriting, filmmaking and producing. Being really immersed in every aspect is my joy.”

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Email Garry Maddox at and follow him on Twitter @gmaddox. All Quiet On The Western Front was written by former Scottish triathlete Lesley Paterson

Jaclyn Diaz

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