Passchendaele is a story about two soldiers who fight in this famous battle. However, there is an incredible back story as to how they came to be there.
Michael Dunne is already a decorated soldier who has fought in the First World War before. When he returns to Canada he goes awol for the fact that he was decorated for ‘sticking a piece of metal through a boy’s forehead’. He is not proud of the killings he committed during the war. He is diagnosed with shell shock and hence granted the permission to stay at home in Canada for the rest of the war. It is only by his love for the nurse Mann, who nursed him back to health in Canada, that he meets her younger brother, David, and ended up on the battlefield once again.
David signed up for the war to impress his girlfriend’s father, who he wishes to marry. He also hope to exorcise the image of his dead German father. Nurse Mann who is wrongfully told that Michael was the one who signed him up is of course furious, asking who will watch over her brother. Given the General’s love for Nurse Mann he decides to go to the war again to protect her brother. Hence, they both find themselves on the battlefield at Passchendaele.
On the battlefield at Passchendaele, the Canadian corps must fight off a German advance. Because of the stress of it all, David went crazy, runs right into the German’s trench. The Germans nailed the boy to a cross. Michael went to his help, walk through no-man’s land to get the cross back. In doing so, he receives a shot in the shoulder and later dies at the side of Nurse Mann.
The film was directed, produced and written by Paul Gross, a Canadian. He wanted to write a film about the 10th Battalion, the “Fighting Tenth” who along the First Canadian Division took part in all the major battles of the First World War, and set the record for the highest number of bravery awards given in a single battle.