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Remembered Today:

Passchendale new Canadian movie GALA premiere Thursday September 4 200


John Gilinsky
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On Thursday September 4, 2008 at the Toronto Interntaional Film Festival (TIFF / 08) the new Canadian movie "Passchendale" staring the Canadian actor Paul Gross will gala premiere here in Toronto.

John

Toronto

(sorry the galas are sold out and I don't think I can obtain ticket(s):()

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No offence but the movie in mho deserves a proper topic thread rather than in "chit-chat."

Thanks though for pointing out these posts though.

John

1 per cent or less chance that I do in fact attend.

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  • 3 months later...

I have just seen this movie in a local theater. Here is a rough review.

a) Cinematography: Very good to excellent cinematography - good use of panoramas, interior and exterior scenes and close ups along with depth of field for focussing.

B) Costumes and set designs generally: Very good to excellent again. One small but typical problem: Everyone's cosutme appears just like that: new clothes that don't necessarily look lived in: no dirt, no stains, no tears anywhere and all freshly pressed and clean (too clean!). This goes for the waggons and automobiles as well - some of these look like they have been driven off the lot of a local car/waggon museum straight onto the movie set. One particular example a bakery waggon stands out for this super clean aspect! The depiction of the C.A.M.C. Medical Board officer reading and using a dictaphone is excellent (even if the script for him in the scene is not!). Period settings/props are overall done very very well.

c) Acting: - Again very good and occasionally excellent. Worst actor? Typecast stiff British upper lip recruiting officer who while at times good usually comes across as just that : a stereotype. Best actor: Paul Gross for much but NOT all of the film comes across believably and the younger brother of Gross's love interest also comes across as a believable asthmatic young man(with a touch at times of too strident overacting!). Supporting minor and bit actors are not given much to do or say except from the vantage point of the main thrust of the story(see below under script) and their deadpan (that is insufficient acting reveals this.

d) Script: - Very good overall BUT somewhat sentimalized with a bit of modernistic political correctness thrown in (eg. Gross's character denying that a Canadian was ever crucified and saying this in the home front with all the seriousness as if he had just researched and written a post-grad seminar paper on this subject!). Interconnectedness between scenecs and venues (home front and front lines) is somewhat weak with the use of titles (eg. three months later) no real substitute for continuity and reasonable storyline development in this case.

e) Directing: - Very good or even better than this. With the myriad of responsbilities not least of which were production Gross does come across as a competent director.

f) Musical score: Very good or better - However what about soldier's songs, military band recruiting music and the like? Just a little bit of these might have made the movie a little bit more interesting(the director though probalby did not want this thinking that such things would detract the audience!).

g) BATTLE SCENES: Lot of men get blown up, bayonetted, shot. Visually fine but aurally? No sounds of pain, grimaces, shouts, shrieks, calls for mother from the battlefield? The asthamatic young man seems to recover miraculously from his asthmatic attack rushing forward without arms to the German trenches. Continuity in script is a problem since we see him fall into the German trench (without being shot at?) and then "crucified" (though still alive!).

The crucifixtion scene is somewhat of a contrived attempt at ending the movie melodramatically and does not really work that well dramatically.

Uniforms and insignia seem to be period (see other posts though about 1930s webbing being used on the soldiers!).

Overall on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being OUTSTANDING and 1 being not fit to show deserters I would rate PASSCHENDALE by Paul GROSS 2008 (September 2008 premiered) as a:

7.5

Anyone else care to comment or rate the movie?

John

Toronto

CANADA

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"dictaphone" ??????? Did they have such things?

I remember somebody bringing a Grundig "Stenorette" round to our house when I was a child in the 1950s, and how magical we thought it was to record our voices and then to hear them played back...

I wonder if the film will get distributed in the UK. I'd like to see it.

Angela

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I have hoped for some 40 years that a movie would be made of the magnificent and terrible Canadian victory at Passchendaele as my maternal grandfather, Lt. D.N. McCallum, O.C. Nineth Platoon, 21st. "Eastern Ontario" Batt., C.E.F. served there and received his second wound, (first Courcelette) which resulted in his early death in 1938, a few years before I was born. I have read a lot about this battle and many other books on WWI and have noticed how often the enormous (considering our population size) Canadian contribution is ignored or subsumed into "British" accomplishments....even the Americans get far more credit than we do, although their actual contribution was far less.

So, I went to see this film with great expectations and hoped to see something really worthwhile. I will flatly state that this is one of the WORST movies I have ever seen and Paul Gross, IMHO, actually does his grandfather's memory a disservice. The battle scenes ARE good, but, the previous comment about the lack of aural aspects of this is only too obvious.

I would not waste money on this disgrace, wait for a TV presentation as it is a sad joke. I could get very specific, but, since I am from a pioneer western Canadian family and know my history in this respect, I will simply point out one major flaw. The young lady who is the doctor's daughter would NEVER have worn such a "decolletage" revealing dress as that at ANY function, but, most especially in front of her Victorian "papa"....I know, I was raised by people of that exact type and my rather Victorian English grandmother.

So, I have not time this ayem for further comment, but, I was saddened by this vehicle for Paul G. to display his ego and most I have spoken with have felt much the same way.

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Angela,

Yes, they would have had Dictaphones. The Columbia Phonograph company was showing Dictaphones for the first time at the Canadian National Exhibition, Toronto, in August 1912 and they attracted a great deal of attention, so I assume they were new technology at that time.

(Toronto "Globe" 30 August 1912)

Ken

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Kutenay: I think that you are a bit too harsh. If you read over my rough review you will note that for a Canadian movie with fair funding through the primary initiative of Mr. Gross the movie overall isn't bad for a recent Canadian produced and controlled movie. I think that your expectations might have been unrealistic expecting the Canadian version of 'Gone With the Wind.'! Look at some 1980s and earlier Canadian fiction war films for how truly bad some of our film making could be! Deadpan wooden acting, poor editing, poor directing etc.... Mr. Gross should be congratulated for taking the time and trouble to produce and direct the film. I however would never nominate his film for an Academy Award in Hollywood though.

Thanks for the post,

John

Toronto

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I have hoped for some 40 years that a movie would be made of the magnificent and terrible Canadian victory at Passchendaele as my maternal grandfather, Lt. D.N. McCallum, O.C. Nineth Platoon, 21st. "Eastern Ontario" Batt., C.E.F. served there and received his second wound, (first Courcelette) which resulted in his early death in 1938, a few years before I was born. I have read a lot about this battle and many other books on WWI and have noticed how often the enormous (considering our population size) Canadian contribution is ignored or subsumed into "British" accomplishments....even the Americans get far more credit than we do, although their actual contribution was far less.

So, I went to see this film with great expectations and hoped to see something really worthwhile. I will flatly state that this is one of the WORST movies I have ever seen and Paul Gross, IMHO, actually does his grandfather's memory a disservice. The battle scenes ARE good, but, the previous comment about the lack of aural aspects of this is only too obvious.

I would not waste money on this disgrace, wait for a TV presentation as it is a sad joke. I could get very specific, but, since I am from a pioneer western Canadian family and know my history in this respect, I will simply point out one major flaw. The young lady who is the doctor's daughter would NEVER have worn such a "decolletage" revealing dress as that at ANY function, but, most especially in front of her Victorian "papa"....I know, I was raised by people of that exact type and my rather Victorian English grandmother.

So, I have not time this ayem for further comment, but, I was saddened by this vehicle for Paul G. to display his ego and most I have spoken with have felt much the same way.

Hi Kutenay

I have not seen this film and after your comments I'm not sure I want to either. However, I fully support your views about the Canadians not always getting the credit they deserve.I well remember my Grandfather talking about fighting along side Canadians and was full of praise for their bravery and spirit - and this was at Second Ypres in April 1915. I think the Brooding Soldier Memorial at St Julien is one of the most moving and dramatic of the War memorials .

Also the inscription above the main arch on the Menin Gate memorial does say "The Armies of the British Empire" which certainly includes the Canadians as well as many others.

Regards

Kevin

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So, I went to see this film with great expectations and hoped to see something really worthwhile. I will flatly state that this is one of the WORST movies I have ever seen and Paul Gross, IMHO, actually does his grandfather's memory a disservice. The battle scenes ARE good, but, the previous comment about the lack of aural aspects of this is only too obvious.

I would not waste money on this disgrace, wait for a TV presentation as it is a sad joke. I could get very specific, but, since I am from a pioneer western Canadian family and know my history in this respect, I will simply point out one major flaw. The young lady who is the doctor's daughter would NEVER have worn such a "decolletage" revealing dress as that at ANY function, but, most especially in front of her Victorian "papa"....I know, I was raised by people of that exact type and my rather Victorian English grandmother.

So, I have not time this ayem for further comment, but, I was saddened by this vehicle for Paul G. to display his ego and most I have spoken with have felt much the same way.

Forgive me, Kutenay, but could you actually spell out what it is about the movie you dislike? You make a doubtless valid point about a costume, but other than that, give no reason why the movie is a "sad joke", a "disgrace" and "one of the worst movies I have ever seen"

Alan

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Media hype (that is successful pre premiere screening in early September 2008) may have caused somewhat unrealistic expectations for this movie. In relative scale say to American historical fiction war movies this movie had it been treated from a PR point of view would have had various media advertising but that is all. There would have been NO special interviews and special focus on it.

This movie is no Canadian version of the Australian "Gallipoli" 1981/2 by Peter Weir; nor a Canadian version of "Apocalypse Now." In short it is NOT a huge break from the past and a significant pioneering effort. It is a well produced, fine effort that is very commendable in specific regards. We still await our Canadian versions (if they will ever come) for the equivalents of such culturally shifting war fiction films in Canada.

John

Toronto

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  • 4 months later...

Just an update for those that have lovefilm its on their list now to reserve, so it looks like at some point we will get it in the UK

Wayne

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Under NO cirumstances should anyone spend money on viewing this appalling piece of trash.

Des

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Under NO cirumstances should anyone spend money on viewing this appalling piece of trash.

Des

By jove I like people who speak there mind !

I will watch when its on the TV and bore my lady wife with my comments................

Bob

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Under no circumstances should people spend any amount of their precious time on viewing this applling piece of trash.

Never mind the money angle.

Des

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Well there you have it a major review.. :P . For those that interested and want to view its released 28th sept in UK

Wayne

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Des: One man's poison is another man's treasure. There are good even very good points about the film. There are also though several very critical points about it as well amongst these being questionable and even poor acting juxtaposed against very competent acting. Sentimentality (remember the producer and star Paul Gross) was emeshed (obsessed?) with his own family's involvement with the war embedded in grand Hollywoodesque type cinematography (which actually works for some scenes) are also points for criticism.

John

Toronto

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Well there you have it a major review.. :P . For those that interested and want to view its released 28th sept in UK

I wouldnt bother mate i have it here,and im afraid its another pearl harbour :o

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Hollywood is NOT history!

John

Toronto

Exactly, John. Hollywood* is, was and always will be - entertainment. Is the film entertaining? Yes? Job done.

Jim

*I accept that this film was not made by/in Hollywood - but, Mr Gross's wish to honour his g'father aside, was surely made in the Hollywood model - ie, for the purposes of entertainment and, most importantly, filling cinema seats.

NB: if/when the film surfaces in the UK, I will almost certainly see it - her indoors is the Mountie's No.1 fan :D

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I thought it was an all right film overall.

However, I was suprised to see teenage nudity in the film; the movie was Passchendaele, not 'Fast Times At Ridgemount High'!

Well, I guess these days they have to show a little bit of everything for everyone at the movies. The scene with the nurse's brother having sex with the doctor's daughter was brief and basically non-explicit, but the young man's bottom sticking out on screen towards the camera was very vulgar and something I would rather not have seen.

I guess the film reminded me a little bit of the CBC 'Anne of Green Gables' TV series, but set during WWI, because much of the film was about the Canadian WWI homefront.

I wasn't disappointed about the film being essentially a love story; I know a lot of people wanted more of a pure combat drama film, something maybe more along the lines of Steven Spielberg's "Saving Private Ryan" (which I think a lot of people who have seen 'Passchendaele' perhaps are subconsciously comparing it too).

I thought the romantic element between the sergeant and nurse was a good idea for a WWI film; WWI wasn't only the trenches; men and women serving fell in love; some got married.

However, the film was named 'Passchendaele', so I think a lot of people thought it would focus exclusively on the battle experience and be a combat or an epic military drama.

That is sort of what I thought; I thought it may be more like the Canadian made for TV film 'Dieppe', and would have shown Douglas Haig, focused on the military planning and the Canada's place in it, and maybe have commented on the amount of casualties that were lost and shown that there were opportunities to call off the Passchendaele Offensive (if I remember correctly).

Paul Gross's focus is not on the military brass but the ordinary soldier and people from Canada who were caught up in the Great War. So it isn't a grandiose battle film like 'A Bridge Too Far'; instead the audience sees the experiences of one Canadian N.C.O. and those of his friends at home and his fellow soldiers in his company which is a fine subject for a drama.

I think there is a misunderstanding about the nurse's brother being crucified by the German soldiers in the film; he became entangled in barbed wire and stuck to a wooden beam as a result of an artillery shell explosion. The Paul Gross character mentioned that the artillery knocked men and material around in all sorts of ways.

Yet, the film was marketed as 'Passchendaele'; perhaps a better name would have been "Passchendaele: A Farewell To Arms" or 'A Love Story At Passchendaele', something like that; so, I have to judge the film by the title it was given and I would give it a 6 / 10 mainly because of the title since I had expectations it would be a WWI battle drama and not the love story that it essentially was.

That said it was an interesting film, and I enjoyed watching it; I thought it had too much teenage nudity for a war film, and I thought the film was definitely mistitled, but Paul Gross's character was admirable and it was nice seeing a modern Great War film for a change (many more should be made). I would have given the film a much higher score if 'Passchendaele' had been marketed as a wartime love story.:)

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I posted these comments in another related thread where someone was seeking a copy to show to students on a trip.

I just purchased this from a Canadian vendor via Amazon. (I am in the US so it was US region) but it was terribly disappointing.

I am not sure what the weight of opinion might be on the forum but frankly I thought the film as a whole was absolutely awful.

There is a brutal battle scene of about 10 minutes at the end - but beyond that I wouldn't knock yourself out to find a copy. I found the characterisation terrible, what characters there were either stereotypes or just wooden, the dialogue swung between the clichéd and simple clunky, the storyline unconvincing.... you can see the battle scene on U-Tube beyond this I personally found little to recommend this as a film, terribly disappointed.

I think it aimed to be a Canadian Gallipolli - and failed miserably...

The one thing I enjoyed was identifying iconic photographic/artistic images which they recreated in the film - this was quite well done - but not IMHO, a saving grace.

(not sure on the age of your students but the battle scene is graphic and brutal (perhaps no bad thing), there is also reference to drug use and a couple of "love scenes" - nothing really explicit but depends on your/school policies I suppose)

for what it is worth, even as a time filler I wouldn't recommend it. Just a personal view written 10 minutes after viewing! (really!)

After which I went and read some of the forum reviews and continued:

I had avoided reading any of the commentary on the forum before I saw the film. I just read the thread.

I really wanted the film to be good and I really wanted to like it (not the same thing!) I don't think it was either. I understand what Gross is trying to do and respect that, but I just think it was terribly poor attempt. I think "the Trench", with all the criticisms that can be leveled at it was far better, same with "Jouyeux Noel" - infinitely better, "A Very Long Engagement" (different but also better...) - in all of those I actually cared about the characters. I think I might have even liked "Flyboys" more!

My criticisms are not about "historical accuracy" (nor anorak details or overall - see all three movies mentioned above) nor about technical qualities - the battle scene was impressive in impact but the story and the imagery was so incredibly clichéd including the "redemption"/sacrifice scene at the end with its clumsy Christ imagery (which we had been prepared for throughout with the repeated mention of the crucifixion claim) but all of the characters were simple clichés that have been done far better elsewhere (the fat uncaring/cowardly English officer, are all well meaning psychologists Scots?("Behind the lines" "Regeration"- again better IMHO), tokenism of the worst sort (one "native" on the screen for about 15 seconds and one French Canadian with a Lewis gun, the upper class "doctor" sending his daughter's suitor off to be killed).... I should stop. For me even the fantastically beautiful Canadian landscape which presumably was intended to be the home for which the characters were yearning was shot in such a way as to reduce it to a cheap picture postcard....

Fair point about Weir's film as a hard act to follow - but that is sort of my issue. There are all sorts of stereotypes, myths, inaccuracies etc in that work, but it still (for me) is a great film in which you care about the characters, which creates a great period impression and effectively conveys its message. It works.

For me - despite really hoping it would - Passchendaele does not - on any level.

(just my 2p)

Chris

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Chris:

I loved A Very Long Engagement precisely because it avoided every single pitfall that appears to plague Passchendaele. I'm tired of cartoonish, clumsy characterization and childish moralizing.

A Very Long Engagement paid us the great (nowadays) compliment of assuming we have brains. It didn't think it was necessary to set off rockets and wave banners and shout "See? See? Get it?"

In the French film the characters were complex and inconsistent--human beings, in other words. The problem with war films is that they're too often made by people who think there are only two kinds of soldiers: victims or villains.

The French film made no such stupid claims, and it's a great work of art because of it. Even with that silly bright-red German airplane that looked like a crop-duster instead of a ground-attack machine.

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