Passchendaele (2008)

passchendaele_-_2008“There’s only one rule: don’t die. ” – Sarah Mann

Number of Times Seen – 1 (3 Mar 2016)

Brief Synopsis – The story of the Canadian Army’s war efforts in Europe during WWI seen through the eyes of a shell shocked soldier, a nurse and her very naive brother.

My Take on it – As most of you know, I always love getting recommendations for films to watch and even moreso love when I am able to watch films that are powerful enough for me to want to add them to my lists of favorites.

This movie is one of those.

Last week, I watched and reviewed Hyena Road (2015) which is a war movie about the Iraq War but from the perspective of Canadian soldiers serving in Iraq.  After watching it, I had a conversation about it with my good friend Dan over at Slip/through Movies and he suggested that I watch this movie also because it’s also by the same actor/director Paul Gross.

It’s actually quite hard to describe how much I enjoyed this film without spoiling too much.

This is in reality a story about true love but it is shrouded in a disguise as a war (actually anti-war) movie.

Writer/Director/Actor Paul Gross is superb here as the main character who struggles with so much while having to do many things that he is tasked with; some because he was following orders and some by his own choices.

The way that Gross filmed this movie was superb; it all feels quite realistic (especially the battle scenes) and it’s all apparently almost perfectly accurate in it’s depiction of major events i.e. the battles themselves.

This is all quite amazing since this is only the second film he has ever directed.

The story is very powerful and we are pulled in from the start all the way to the ending.

It’s somewhat rare seeing a tale about Canadian soldiers in battle (and even rarer about WWI), but is really is done perfectly all around.

I think part of his success here is based on the fact that the story itself was quite personal to Gross and it comes across as a passion project because of that.

Since starting my Temporal Top Ten lists last year, I haven’t needed to make many changes, but now I will need to once again make a change for 2008 because this movie really deserves to be included with the elite movies of that year.

This is truly a powerful tale that should be seen by lots more people eventhough most of us will have trouble pronouncing its title.

Can’t wait to see what other ideas Gross has for us in the future; I’ve seen his two war movies and they both were done exceptionally well showing that there are elite Canadian film makers making films that can and will impact us all.

Bottom Line – Great love story told under the guise of being a war story. Paul Gross is superb here as the main character and we can really feel his anguish in everything he is tasked with doing whether it be by his own choice or by following orders.  The war scenes feel so real and Gross did a wonderful job directing.  Hard to believe that this was only his second time as director.  Definitely a powerful “gem” of a film that most people have probably missed and I’m so glad I was told about it.  I once again now need to update my Temporal Top Ten of 2008 because this movie also deserves to be on that list. Highly Recommended!

MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – The scene at the beginning of the battle of Passchendaele where Canadian soldiers walk on wooden planks between the wet trenches is virtually identical to a famous picture of the battlefield taken by Australian photographer Frank Hurley on October 29th 1917. (From IMDB)

Rating – Oscar Worthy


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8 thoughts on “Passchendaele (2008)

  1. So glad you enjoyed the recommendation, Rob! Usually Canadian films get reputation for low budget, but stuff like Room and Brooklyn got good recognition this year. If you’re curious about other Canadian directors you may be more familiar with David Cronenberg, but Atom Egoyan is often referred to as our best. Check out his recent kidnapping thriller with Ryan Reynolds, as a man who’s daughter goes missing, in The Captive. Check my review if you like – – Egoyan’s next film is called Remember, with Christopher Plummer and Martin Landau, about wartime survivors with a secret.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Temporal Top Ten – 2008 |

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