Passchendaele vs. All Quiet

(Canscene) –The dreamers who tell you that the Canadian spirit was forged at Vimy and Passchendaele forget that this was in a war that should never have begun, a war that satisfied he imperial dreams of monarchs such as Kaiser Wilhelm, Tsar Nicholas and King George of England thus drawing in 600,000 Canadian volunteers who remained British subjects in spite of their places of birth.


Passchendaele: A sea of mud
For the rank and file who fought it, this was not the picnic they thought it was going to be.

I found the movie written, directed and starred in by Canadian Paul Gross a shallow mirror of its times, in spite of some well-staged and horrific battle scenes.

Passchendaele offers little but a Harlequin romance alternating with those battle scenes, cheapening the whole production. Some of the scenes showing jingoistic recruiters going to work on impressionable youth hit the mark but for the most part, saddling the lead with a tepid romance didn’t drive home the depth of sacrifice that so many young men made in vain. The so-called Great War was merely the true begetter of the second conflict in which going to war against the combined evils of Nazism, Fascism and Japanese imperialism ennobled those who fought rather than betrayed them.

Oddly enough, that same week I saw Passchendaele I had once again screened my DVD of All Quiet on the Western Front filmed in 1930 and still a classic after nearly 80 years.

all-quiet All Quiet: an incredible 80 next year

The 1914-1918 war was seen through the eyes of German soldiers — recruits and veterans — whose gradual disillusionment through fighting to stay alive grows into total disenchantment . The major players, Louis Wolheim, Lew Ayres, Beryl Mercer, Slim Summerville and John Wray were three dimensional characters and Lewis Milestone’s direction was a tour de force. Who can forget that shot of two hands clutching barbed wire, separated from a body that hs been blown to bits!

All Quiet stated and reiterated what should be obvious to all of us: War is Hell!

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