I had eagerly awaited the release of this on to DVD and snapped it up as soon as I saw it at a reasonable price. I avoided all reviews of it before watching it as I had heard some unsavoury rumors, and I always like to make my own mind up.
Written, directed, co-produced and starring Paul Gross, I was already pleased. I really like him as an actor and was interested to see how he fared at all the other responsibilities of film making.
Based on memories that his grandfather told him just before he passed away, this film is a moving testament to all the men who fought and died during The Battle of Passchendaele between July and November 1917.
I did not even mind the love story. Normally things like that irk me a little, but I thought that it was heartfelt and believable. It gave me a lot more connection to the characters.
But, that said, I was not keen on the way it was written. A moving and obviously very personal tribute it may be, but I did not like chronology of the movie. I feel it may have been better if the scenes of life before the War had been used as flash backs as opposed to a running narrative.
However. That is my only criticism. And all of my misgivings about the film paled into insignificance any time the battlefield or trench scenes squelched into view. The details with which the Third Battle of Ypres has been re-created is akin to the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan, such is its dedication to the truth.
I have not seen a film that has made me think "this is what it was really like". And I think that is an incredibly important thing to have in this day and age of visual stimulation.
How else will we remember?
The research and accuracy of the final scenes of this film painstakingly portray an actual battle fought by 8th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. A brake down in communication meant that a small company had to try and hold the line. It is a battle known well to the history books for it's courage and valor.
The DVD also has a "making of" extra which gives more insight as to how it was made. I found this fascinating and it compounded the fact that Paul Gross made this movie to remember all those who fought and died.
I recommend this film to anyone who can see past any continuity issues that may arise and recognise this film as a personal journey for one man and his family. A journey that so many people will be able to connect with through their own ancestral experiences of "The War to End all Wars".
A 6/10 from me.