New on DVD: Passchendaele – Special Edition

New on DVD: Passchendaele – Special Edition

There have been countless war movies tackling past and present conflicts. However, a small minority has actually told of the Canadian effort. Paul Gross has chosen to enlighten the film-going public by recounting possibly the most savage battle of the First World War through one man’s perspective. Canada’s participation in the Battle of Passchendaele in […]


There have been countless war movies tackling past and present conflicts. However, a small minority has actually told of the Canadian effort. Paul Gross has chosen to enlighten the film-going public by recounting possibly the most savage battle of the First World War through one man’s perspective. Canada’s participation in the Battle of Passchendaele in 1917 defined our country in the eyes of the world, but at a great loss.

After some highly disturbing combat experience, Sergeant Michael Dunne (Gross) wakes up in a hospital on Canadian soil. Sarah (Caroline Dhavernas), a beautiful young nurse, dutifully heals his physical wounds and simultaneously captures his heart. Michael returned, however, with irreparable emotional scarring and as a result is granted a stateside recruitment position. It is in this capacity he meets Sarah’s younger, hotheaded brother, David (Joe Dinicol). They are a family also marked by the war, their father having died at Vimy Ridge. When Sarah’s fears for David are realized, it is Michael that follows him to the front to ensure his safety.

Gross accomplishes a stunning balance of beauty and horror. He captures the brute ferocity of the battlefield, confronting audiences with the realities of war. On the other hand, he displays images of love and entrancing prairie landscape, which gives Michael hope and something to fight for.

Gross’ passion for the subject imbues every aspect of his performance, both as a filmmaker and an actor. Furthermore, the supporting roles played by young actors Dhavernas and Dinicol are on par with Gross’ and contribute to the film’s dramatic success.

This special re-release is two discs. The first disc is identical to the first release with “The Road to Passchendaele” featurette. The second disc contains 85 minutes in National Film Board shorts and documentaries, as well as a look at “Passchendaele – The Farah Nosh Gallery.”