Has anyone seen Passchendaele?

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Edwin-S, Oct 11, 2008.

  1. Edwin-S

    Edwin-S Producer

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    I was wondering if any fellow Canadians (or others) have seen this Canadian production? I saw a clip on the news about it being played for the troops stationed in Afghanistan and thought it looked promising. What were your impressions of it if you have seen it?

    I only found two reviews of it at Rottentomatos. The Toronto Star reviewer gave it a good rating, while the other reviewer made it sound like a head-on collision between "Saving Private Ryan" and "Pearl Harbor". The result? A mess. If you have seen it, who is right?

    Thanks.
     
  2. JoshuaB.

    JoshuaB. Second Unit

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    I haven't seen it, but it's on my "must see" list, so I'll be there opening night on Friday. I'm a big proponent of Canadian films and Paul Gross, one of our best-known actors, deserves credit for recreating a key battle from WWI. I really hope it doesn't roll out the war clichés or shy away from the graphic nature of trench warfare. We don't have enough films documenting Canadian history, so I'm at least heartened that Gross is very passionate about the subject. We'll see if it's any good this weekend!
     
  3. Edwin-S

    Edwin-S Producer

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    I'm probably going to be stuck watching this on DVD or BD. I doubt that it will get a theatrical release where I'm at. I'll be pleasantly surprised if I turn out to be wrong.

    The film sounds promising from the little I've read about it; although, the inclusion of a love story concerns me. When it comes to war films I prefer them to concentrate on the event and the effect it has on the participants. Love story plots in war films always seem pointless to me. Battle of Britain and Midway are two examples of war films with pointless love stories. And don't get me started on the soap operish love story in "Pearl Harbor".

    I hope the love angle in this film doesn't derail it. I hope this film is successful enough to eventually get a film about Vimy Ridge made.
     
  4. Miles

    Miles Second Unit

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    I saw this last night. I have mixed feelings about the film. There were some strong performances, some great battle scenes... but the film had some really jarringly bad scenes that distracted me from the good points.

    I was also disappointed by the amount of time spent on the love story. Far less time could have been spent on this, allowing more time to be spent on telling the story of the battle...

    I would recommend Canadians go see this, just to support local films, but there are better recent WWI movies, like Joyeux Noel.
     
  5. DavidPla

    DavidPla Cinematographer

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    This has always been my problem as a fellow Canadian. I WOULD like to support out films but I fail to see why we haven't made our very own masterpiece at this point. We have the talent. We have the resources. Yet I feel our industry never takes enough chances on any new up and coming filmmakers. The same goes for television. We don't take enough chances. Hopefully that will change.
     
  6. Edwin-S

    Edwin-S Producer

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    Well, it got a wide enough release to actually make it up here. I'm going to go and see it sometime in the next few days.
     
  7. JoshuaB.

    JoshuaB. Second Unit

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    I'm always having this discussion with my friends who like big-budget American films, but dislike Canadian cinema. While we've embraced our literature and music, it's been film and TV that have had peaks and valleys, in terms of acceptance. I think many of the works of David Cronenberg, Atom Egoyan, Denys Arcand and Guy Maddin could be hailed as cinematic "masterpieces", as well as classics like Goin' Down the Road, The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz and Mon Oncle Antoine, but of course many Canadians haven't seen them (there's also an issue with Canadian film distribution, but that's another long story...).

    The Canadian film industry does take chances on new filmmakers, it's just very difficult to cover an indie-style film budget: obviously there are government grants and subsidies, but they don't cover all of the filming costs (and a private film studio system wouldn't be very profitable in a country of only 32 million people). Hell, even a veteran like Paul Gross had to jet across the country to receive private funding from patrons and the Alberta government just to get Passchendaele made. Some new filmmakers, however, do luck out, whether it's Reg Harkema's Monkey Warfare, Sarah Polley's Away from Her, or the recent (and quite funny) Young People Fucking. There are Canadian films out there, they're just dwarfed by the sheer number of screenings of American films.

    Sorry for the rant, but I'm very passionate about the Canadian arts! [​IMG]

    I still haven't seen Passchendaele, but it's been receiving generally good notices from Canadian film critics. Hopefully I'll see it this weekend!
     
  8. Edwin-S

    Edwin-S Producer

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    My problem with Canadian flicks is that they spend so much effort asserting they are Canadian that they forget to actually be entertaining. I know "Goin' Down the Road" is considered a classic, but I just found it to be stupid and foul. I thought "Paperback Cowboy" was good though. At least I'm pretty sure that was the title. It was a long time ago that I saw it. I vaguely remember that it made good thematic use of a Gordon Lightfoot song. I searched and can't find anything about it on ImDB or anywhere else. I wouldn't mind seeing it again in order to see how well it aged.

    Edit: The film I was thinking about was called "Paperback Hero". Doesn't get a high rating on ImDB, but I thought it wasn't bad. Of course, I was pretty young when I saw both "PH" and "GDTR". I might have to try rewatching "GDTR" if I can find it. Maybe it will "speak" more to me now.
     
  9. cicadess

    cicadess Auditioning

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  10. Russell G

    Russell G Fake Shemp
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    You nailed my problem with Canadian films. Cronenberg escaped this by breaking out with genre films. Otherwise the typical Canadian film is about growing up on the prairies or native issues. There's a place for them, but it's not really my interest, and it's only relatively recently that Canadian films not dealing with those topics started to get made.

    Bruce MacDonald is about the only director on my must see list, who does the above well and in a entertaining way, as opposed to being preachy/romantic about it.
     
  11. Edwin-S

    Edwin-S Producer

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    Finally went to see this. Outside of the fact that the theatrical presentation was mediocre with sound problems I also was, in one word, disappointed.

    The actual battle was given pretty short shrift for a film named after the battle of Passchendaele. The whole sequence involving the battle felt a little rushed to me. You just didn't get a sense of the scale or importance of the whole engagement. Most of the film was taken up by a long, drawn out love story on the homefront that just seemed to drag on and on.

    There was a subplot involving the asthmatic brother of the female romantic lead that should have been good, but was just taken down by an unconvincing performance by the role's actor. He should have been a sympathetic character, but I just found him to be irritating.

    After watching the film I got the impression that the titlemaker had made a spelling mistake. Instead of Passchendaele I thought the film should have been titled Passiondale, since most of the film was spent on a soap opera-like love story and contained some florid dialogue that left me thinking, "Does anyone actually talk like that"?

    The film felt like Paul Gross was trying to touch on too many issues without actually stopping to develop any of them. One subplot touched on the anti-German feelings amongst the civilian population but once again it was given almost no real development which gave the whole subplot a tacked on feeling.

    One area that was done well was the hand to hand fighting that took place during the battle. It wasn't a long sequence but it gave a pretty good idea of how brutal the fighting must have been.

    All in all I would say that this film was a good try but fell far short of being great. It isn't really a good film in regards to making any observations about WW1 or the battle of Passchendaele. As far as WW1 films go Paths of Glory and All Quiet on The Western Front are much better watches. As far as love stories with a WW1 theme go, I would consider A Very Long Engagement to be superior to this film.
    I'll give this one a "C" for being a good try and relatively entertaining as far as a Canadian film goes.
     

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