Passchendaele - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Passchendaele Reviews

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June 17, 2017
A beautiful,emotional war-movie between the canadian and german
May 5, 2017
Superb Canadian movie
January 6, 2016
Incredible movie that needs a proper review. Best movie on the horrors of World War I I've ever seen.
October 10, 2015
The reason I watched this is because my Gym teacher was in it, I was not impressed.
September 7, 2015
I took this out of the library. "Remember the rule -- don't die!" GTFO!
September 6, 2015
The war scenes are very accurate to the time of Passchendaele and the Flanders which was flooded all the time and good acting from everybody involved.
War realism is worth th e5 starts. Who wants to sit in a shell filled with water for a couple of days.
July 19, 2015
A terrible homage to the soldiers who died in Flandres. The movie has little to do with Passchendaele (how can you talk Passhendaele without assessing Haig's role?) and much more a cheap soap opera...Trash like Inglorious Bastards and Fury.
½ June 19, 2015
I do not see the same film the negative reviews that preceed me see. I see an excellent presentation of the horrors of war. I see a superb feeling for the godawful feeling of killing another man - and not being sure why. I see an accurate depiction of what the amalgamation of class feeling and nationalist hatred does to a population. I saw complete ugliness amongst the classes - and amongst the feelings of the commoners against "the foe".

One must recall what Pogo said. "We have met the enemy, and they are us."

I have personally seen violence. I have myself met dismemberment and death. I have known the irrational devotion to a cause, that leads one, blindly, into unforeseen consequences.

This movie does an excellent job of showing the awfulness of war. And, showing us the why of the awfulness. The plot line is a bit O'Henry-ish, in coincidence and all that. But, the story is much bigger than the plot, and the dialogue.

All war is violent. That is its nature. By that very nature, war involves heartbreak and sorrow. This film does an excellent job of reminding us that this is the case. And it does an excellent job of portraying trench warfare in Europe in particular.

The story of this film? 3 stars, not more. But the film? At least 4 stars, because it is as good as a documentary at telling us what war is about. I say bravo.
May 3, 2015
The movie was very well done, he has such a way of capturing the moments. i loved it !!!
½ April 4, 2015
A love story embedded in a WWI movie nicely made. Obviously Canadian movie makers are not usually throwing in too much money like the Americans as seen from the battle scenes but still quite worth watching.
½ March 18, 2015
The basis for this movie is the story of the grandfather of the actor, writer, and producer. The battle scenes were executed superbly, and the historical accuracy of the back story is with in the realm of possibility. Every movie fictionalizes dialog and action to move the store along, this one is no different. However, it is historical fiction, not a documentary. It is well acted, directed and the cinematography and editing are tops. One in ten Canadian soldiers did not make it home from France and Belgium. Their bravery and audacity as fighters in the Great War was surpassed only by their ability to endure the elements they were forced to live, fight and die in. This movie can be enjoyed by history buffs looking for a Ken Burns perspective and movie buffs looking for the Stephen Spielberg grandeur and romance.
November 28, 2014
I thought this film was pretty good. Especially when you read what inspired it
November 25, 2014
Paul Gross wrote, directed and stars in this ambitious (yet still very CBC feeling) epic, following the exploits of the Canadian soldiers who fought in one of the key battles of World War 1 in 1917. The story follows Gross as a troubled veteran, his nurse girlfriend and a na´ve boy who intersect first in Alberta and then through the bloody battle of Passchendaele.

You can just tell that Paul Gross put his heart and soul into this and I really, really wanted to be impressed, finally getting the Canadian side of events after so many WW1 movies that just deal with the American or British. Unfortunately though its not great.

Yeah it has its moments, it's visually impressive, the battle scenes are very well done, the trench warfare, the mud, the rain, the carnage and I got very caught up in the ending despite myself but this is also melodramatic at times, kinda choppy and (as I said) has a made for TV feel despite the big budget. Guys will be disappointed too because for the most part this is a love story.

Still I am haunted by the ending, that final shot of the wooden cross in Calgary with the Bow river in the background infused with the white stone graves in France, beautiful. 11/16/14
½ July 8, 2014
Passchendaele is another one of those films that falls under the category of a romance taking place in the midst of a tragedy...type...thing. I don't know if there is a genre like that, but there should be, because there's more than enough movies to give it its own classification. For me, a lot of these films have really been hit or miss, because I often find that the romance and drama between the characters outweighs the significance of the event the story takes place in. Titanic is a great example of this formula working quite well, while Pearl Harbor is an example of just how terrible this formula can be. Now enter Passchendaele. Unlike those other films previously mentioned, Passchendaele is a CANADIAN film revolving around a romance between a soldier and a nurse, while they are caught in the midst of the battle of Passchendaele, a key battle in the First World War in which Canadians played a significant role in. What I think this film does really well is telling a sort of classic romance tale, while also painting an accurate picture of the brutal battle. I thought it tackled both parts of the story pretty well, which is all the more impressive considering the low budget of the film. A sweetly told love story, and a fitting tribute to the Canadian soldiers who gave their lives during the battle of Passchendaele.
½ February 24, 2014
I know, finally a war movie about what Canada did in World War I. But it's not what I though it would be. This film fails miserably as a war film, although it starts off as one well enough. Then it goes all to hell as a war movie. It turns into a romance movie that goes on forever, it's boring and for the audiences who watch it, they don't care. Then it ends at the Battle of Passcendaele, which takes like 25 of the movie. And the final battle sucks! It's one of modern films worst war sequences. And why call it Passcendaele if only 25 minutes of the movie is spent there!? I didn't like it, and although as a romance movie I guess it's not bad, but as a war movie named after a famous battle, it is terrible.
½ February 15, 2014
I'm not english mother tongue and maybe I did not get all the dialogues but honesty I like it. Maybe the movie, sometimes, is very slow but Gross shows the horror's war efficiently. The battle scene is terrific, modern war turns in medieval war. I think this is a half-war-movie and half-love-movie. This is a piece of canadian history. If you want to see bad fictions on war watch italian tv, trust me I'm italian.
½ February 11, 2014
This film is far better that you'd believe from the reviews. The final battle scene is horrific and was hard to watch because of it's authenticity.
½ January 22, 2014
Could have (and should have) been far better than it is. Canadian budget constraints are not at fault here, partially because the Australians have been able to make far better war films with far less cash, and partially because this is one of the biggest budget Canadian films ever produced, but mostly because it's awful. That battle sequences - stripped of their tedious melodrama - contain as good a production value as Band of Brothers; the uniforms, equipment, units, and battlefield appearance are all broadly historically accurate. It is however (and there is no way of getting around this) a massive steaming shit. I shall overlook the small problems with stereotypical characters (token First Nations soldier, pompous fat cowardly Brit), the glaring historical inaccuracies (80% of the men who joined the CEF between 1914-1918 were born in Britain, so spare me the pious 'us and them' post colonial harping), and even the simply appalling melodramatic plot; let's just focus on the script. Stock characters parroting stock lines doesn't even come into it, Passchendaele presents the viewer with stock characters parroting borderline incomprehensible lines. There is a refrain carried forth between the two terribly mismatched leads (Gross is 20 years older than his supposed love interest for christ's sake), which one feels is intended to be poetic, but is actually no different from the work of a six year old child trying to fill up space on a homework assignment. This refrain was excruciating the first time the it was delivered, describing the Canadian scenery the way a first year French student describes his clothes (Mon, pantalon, est, noir. Ma, chemise, est, noir), but by the third go recital all one can here is one's inner monologue saying 'oooh for fuck's sake'. What is most annoying about this is that Canada (hell, the English speaking world!) is desperate for a decent film about the First World War; an Anglophone answer to Juenet's A Very Long Engagement. We deserve one, given that the last great English language WWI film was Gallipoli (1981). But this is emphatically not it. Thus it is a missed opportunity. It's money thrown at a sub-par made for TV script. It's (for the most part) perfectly decent actors led astray by the sense that because they're 'doing this for Canada', they're doing a good thing. It's just bad. In fact, it's East Enders (Days of Our Lives for the North American audience) with a war going on.
November 14, 2013
One of the advertising lines for this movie about the World War I battle of Passchendaele is that it tells the story of the Canadian soldiers who fought there. Well, not really. It tells the story of one soldier, and most of that story takes place in Calgary where combat veteran Michael Dunne (Paul Gross) is assigned to a recruiting centre after being diagnosed with shell shock. He falls in love with a local nurse. When her younger brother enslists and goes overseas, Dunne asks to be sent with him to look after him. The final 30 minutes involve Dunne and the young man in the title battle.

The production values are very good. The battle scenes are convincing (an opening scene of an ambushed patrol is based on the experiences of Gross's own grandfather). There is a tendency for stunt people to go cartwheeling through the air when a shell lands nearby. The acting is good, with particular mention for Caroline Dhavernas as the nurse, Sarah Mann. What held this movie back was the script (which Gross wrote; he also directed and produced). The dialogue is melodramatic and the plot feels forced, especially when Dunne manoeuvres his way back to the front. The climax descends into cliches over-the-top imagery.

It's a good effort, but it doesn't compare with Saving Private Ryan or Band of Brothers.
½ March 29, 2013
The Canadians Didn't Seem to Know It Couldn't Be Taken

If it is true, as several people lament in the making-of, that Canadians no longer know their own history, so much the less do Americans know it. Americans will persist in telling Europeans that, if not for them, British or French or wherever citizens would all be speaking German. However, people who know a bit of the history of the two world wars know that the Americans got to both wars late. After all, in World War II, we had to invade France, because the Germans had completely overrun it. In the First World War, well, it's worth noting that the scene that opens the movie takes place a day or two after the US officially declared war, and we are explicitly told that the Canadians had been fighting for three years at that point. (Less a few months, but who's counting?) What's more, the Canadians were well known to be extremely fierce fighters--by the Allies as well as the Germans.

In particular, we are looking here at Sergeant Michael Dunne (Paul Gross), wounded at Vimy Ridge. He is sent back to Canada, where he is diagnosed with what was then called neurasthenia. Instead of going back to the front, he is sent to a recruiting office in his hometown of Calgary. He falls in love with his nurse, Sarah Mann (Caroline Dhavernas), but she has no interest in getting emotionally involved with a soldier. Luckily for Dunne, he is there when Sarah's brother, David (Joe Dinicol), comes in. Unluckily for David, he has asthma, which disqualifies him for service--especially late enough in the war that gas was being used. Besides, Dunne knows that it will just about kill Sarah if David is killed, and he's interested in protecting Sarah. However, David is himself in love with Cassie Walker (Meredith Bailey), whose father (David Ley) is a doctor who doesn't want his only child involved with someone so far below their social class.

War is never fun, of course, but it seems to me that World War I was about the worst. In Passchendaele, a combination of months of rain and intense artillery even prevented the use of trenches--the bombing destroyed the drainage, and it was impossible to dig trenches in the sodden ground. Before-and-after pictures are frankly shocking--there is literally nothing left. Roads and buildings alike are completely obliterated. The battle lasted a couple of weeks and gained the Allies less than two miles of ground. Much of the war was like that, fought back and forth over the same ground. No one could properly bury the dead. No one in the film is gassed, but when David says that Dunne isn't blind, he doesn't mean that he didn't lose his eyes to bullets or shell fragments. That was one of the effects of gas. It also left insides scarred. The film reminds us that one in ten Canadians who went to war never returned home, but things weren't all sunshine and roses even for the ones who did.

This is not entirely about the battle, as you may have noticed. Arguably, it is very little about the battle. Mostly, it is Paul Gross attempting to connect with his grandfather, a veteran who did not speak much about the war to anyone. Indeed, his character is named after his grandfather, Michael Joseph Dunne. The real Dunne was on a fishing trip with his young grandson once, and he told Paul Gross that, during the war, he had bayoneted a young German boy in the forehead, and that boy had had "eyes like water." This scene appears at the beginning of the movie, and just as the real Dunne was haunted by it, so too it is the real reason for the fictional Dunne's "neurasthenia." Several times, we see those who preach on the "glory of war" receive some clear awareness of what war is really like. Of course, in one case, the guy just gets shot, but that's not uncommon. It is, after all, a war. Though I am giving to understand that the mud killed plenty as Passchendaele, not just the bullets.

For all the movie is as much about a man as about a battle, Paul Gross still put a lot of effort into historical accuracy. Strangely, even the claim that the Germans referred to the Canadian Expeditionary Force as stormtroopers is accurate, even if the name is generally believed historically to refer to German troops exclusively. The Germans really did use it to refer to those specific Canadian troops, for reasons that make sense with a bit of historical perspective that I'm not going to go into here. The physical appearance of the battlefield is carefully created. What was once the prairies of Alberta was plowed and soaked and so forth, creating a scene that matches that shown in period photos. Even if the average person doesn't know much about World War I history--and I confess, I do not and had to look up the "stormtrooper" thing--Paul Gross clearly went out of his way to get it as right as possible. He probably knows that you can't give the story a glorious ending, because it wasn't a glorious war.
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