Passchendaele, the second feature from director / actor Paul Gross, is a hybrid of romance and war movie based around the 1917 battle for Passchendaele which lasted for four months and claimed 600,000 causalities on both sides. The story sprung from a conversation Gross had with his Grandfather who told him about bayonetting a young German through the face and killing him during a battle. Years later as his grandfather lay dying in a hospital bed he asked for forgiveness over and over. Only Gross knew that he was speaking to the young German he had killed in the First World War.
Passchendaele is a personal story told on an epic scale and was seen by audiences for the first time as the opening night film at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival.
The film is ambitious in its scope with battle scenes to rival anything we’ve seen on screen in recent years, while also grafting on a story of honor and romance. In the self-penned script Gross tackles big, timely issues regarding war, patriotism and valor that occasionally come off as a bit corny, but the movie’s heart is in the right place.