Sunday, November 02, 2008


I have admired Paul Gross for quite some time, mostly due to my wife's appreciation of Due South, and looked forward to watching Passchendaele as soon as I viewed the trailer. Gross faithfully depicts the ordinary by distancing himself from it, an ability which may stem from his multiple talents as a writer, director, actor, musician, and comedian. Thus, the impossible makes the ordinary seem more real. In this film I felt he went too far. He frequently gets launched ten feet in the air by artillery bombardment and survives; furthermore, the film is a little long, a little too detailed, a weakness that may stem from his familiarity with theatre and TV. Nevertheless, this film is worth viewing. He painstakingly depicts the multi-facets of war: racism and small-mindedness at home, as well as the usual love story in brutal conditions, although his is tainted with heroin addiction, filial love, and multi-ethnicity. He has produced a "documentary" that the audience can relate to; this result not only shocks the audience at the horrors of war, but makes them more palpable with its fiction. Thus, the experience haunts more than the average production. The film can perhaps be summed up by the final scene, in which the camera pans out from the front, a site of such horror and sacrifice: from one crater filled with corpses the scene progresses to multiple craters and to such a place that few details can be made out. I was left with the impression that these events were both very significant and somewhat insignificant. Our habit for war and the goodness such sacrifice has brought, at times, remains something I will remember, ponder, and dwell on this November 11th. We are complicated, something Gross portrayed masterfully.

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