Passchendaele Paul Gross

Passchendaele Paul Gross
Paul Gross's Canadian epic didn't bring the crowds to the theatre, which is a shame. Yes, it's about Canadian soldiers and most of the actors do have Canadian accents, but the battle scenes are fantastic and the detailed historical accuracy breathtaking. Paul Gross plays Sergeant Dunne, a soldier in the Tenth Battalion, C.E.F. who returns from the battlefield to Calgary with a severe case of shell shock. In the hospital, he falls for young nurse Sarah, (Caroline Dhavernas), whose father also fought and died in the war, but on the German side. Gross has proven himself to be a capable director, though his performance as Dunne is stiff at best. The midsection concerning the love story drags considerably, as neither Gross nor Dhavernas is capable of engaging the audience for that long. His screenplay is oddly paced, opening with an action sequence then slowing to a snail's pace for the next hour and picking up again at the end. A solid supporting cast prevents the film from becoming dull and as soon as we arrive at the famous battle of Passchendaele the action is thoroughly engrossing. Sadly, some scenes appear to have been ripped straight from Braveheart and converted to a Canadian context. For example, instead of William Wallace asking his Scottish lass to ride with him across the highlands and watch the sunset from a glen, Captain Mann asks his Canadian lass to ride with him across the plains and watch the sunset from the foothills. Despite the similarities, Braveheart's scenes rang truer. The dialogue between these two lovers is steeped in incomprehensible metaphor about paintings, pictures and a rule that you "must not die" that quite frankly, is impossible to adhere to in a time of war. The DVD comes with a fantastic making-of documentary, which shows, among other things, the construction of the battlefield from actual pictures. Seeing the black and white pics fade into the scenes from the film gives a great appreciation for what Gross was able to achieve. We also get to see the background performers learning to use their guns and the make-up department creating the gruesome prosthetics. It is worth renting the DVD simply for this, as it gives you an in-depth look at the movie-making process, and will instil a sense of pride in even the most unpatriotic Canadian. Unfortunately there are no deleted scenes. (Alliance)