Sunday, April 5, 2009


Ever hear of it?
The place. The battle. The movie.

I saw Passchendale at the theatre last summer. I'm not much *into* war movies. In fact, I tend not to like them at all. It's all that blood, guts and gore stuff. Too loud. Too many people getting blown away.

But I wanted to see Passchendale. First because it was a Canadian movie. Loosely based on the true story of one Canadian soldier during World War I. Canadian war movies, let alone those based on a true story, are pretty rare. As in rare to none.

So it was that I was rather intrigued.

Part war story. Part love story.

Inspired by director, Paul Gross's, relationship with his grandfather, we are introduced to Sergeant Michael Dunne, a decorated veteran of the 10th Battalion, CEF. Sent home from Europe as a neurasthenia patient, he meets nurse Sarah Mann in Calgary, Alberta, where he enlisted.

Mann is cashiered banned from military service because her father had left Canada to rejoin the German Army in 1915, where he was killed at Vimy Ridge. Her younger brother, is ineligible for military service due to asthma and desperate to win the respect of his girlfriend's father in a time when military service was expected of all young males.

A series of events places him in the trenches in France, with Michael Dunne returning to France to watch over him, and Sarah returning to duty. The three arrive in Europe in time for the Third Battle of Ypres, and the fighting near Passchendaele.

Last night, the movie swept the Genie Awards, winning six awards including the Golden Reel as most popular film of the year.

But more impressive than that, at least for me, were Gross' reported comments on the movie.
“We have a very funny perception of ourselves, which is: ‘We’re peacekeepers.’ Well we are, and we’re extraordinarily good at it, we to some extent invented it, we teach the world how to do it. But, we’re also warriors. And we were the most feared fighting corps in the British order of battle.”
Gross dedicated the movie to all the brave men and women of the Canadian military, past and present, for all they do to keep us safe. Nice.

And yet there remains the sad commentary which inspired the thoughts of my brother, expressed as we were walking out of the theatre, that this was the first movie he had ever seen that made him feel proud of the Canadian military.

Because, at least until now, no on had bothered to make one.


Pogue said...

I'm not sure why the Canadian military seems to get more respect from other countries than from its own. They really deserve much better.

MMC said...

Thanks Pogue. I agree.
And thanks for dropping by.

Eileen said...

I haven't seen Passchedale but I will when and if I get the chance . You and your brother should read The quiet Canadian: The secret service story of Sir William Stephenson - you will feel even prouder. Good book