Passchendaele is the film-of-his-heart for multiple-hat-wearing star Paul Gross. He wrote, co-produced, directed and starred in this World War I drama about a Canadian soldier from the 10th Battalion, 1st Canadian Division who is good at soldiering but suffers from moral conflict over what that entails. He meets and woos a nurse while recovering from his injuries at Vimy Ridge, but must return to the grimy trenches of Belgium to fight for another few inches of blood-soaked ground.
I can't let Paul Gross down - not when I featured him as #6 on my 13 Canadian Hotties list.
This film was inspired by stories his grandfather told to Paul when he asked about his experiences in the war. Specifically, the distressing opening sequence - it's basically Paul's grandfather's life-defining moment. One that haunted him on his deathbed and confused family members when he asked forgiveness of a German soldier whom no one else but Paul knew anything about.
Passchendaele is a chapter in Canadian history that was never publicized at the time due to the army's need for new recruits. Who would join if they knew what living hell was really like?
"I fell in a trench," said Passchendaele veteran Harry Patch. "There was a fella there. He must have been about our age. He was ripped shoulder to waist with shrapnel. I held his hand for the last 60 seconds of his life. He only said one word: 'Mother'. I didn't see her, but she was there. No doubt about it. He passed from this life into the next, and it felt as if I was in God's presence. I've never got over it. You never forget it. Never."