Vimy Ridge helped to shape Canada into a country. The Battle of Vimy Ridge was part of the Battle of Arras in France during World War I. Four divisions of Canadians battled three divisions of Germans from April 9-12, 1917. The Canadians took control of the escarpment and in the process became the first symbol of national achievement and pride.
More on the details of the significance of Vimy Ridge can be found here.
One day, hopefully after I have some screen credit, I hope to be part of or at least begin work on a project that is very important – at least in a historical context to Canada. So far, there has been no film made documenting the Battle of Vimy Ridge besides some very well done documentaries. I think a filmed version of the events would be provide a natural document for the people of Canada to look upon as an important diary of the event that made Canada into what it is today.
Only recently has there been an attempt to capture a war event that Canadians played a large part – Passchendaele, conceived as a film by Paul Gross. It is unfortunate that Passchendaele failed to capture the hearts and minds of Canadians on a large scale. Yes, a lot of people saw the film, but I don’t see it as a war film that Canadians are willing to go back to again and again as a reference. Yes, it did make over $4 million but against an exorbitant budget of $20 million, it was a huge failure.
There is a severe lack of Canadian films that serve as documents to our history – especially as war documents. Cost is the most prohibitive factor. On the other hand, I don’t see the lack of funds as an issue. There are many wealthy Canadians – financiers if you will – or even Canadian companies that could come together as a conglomerate to finance such important documents. It is the will to get such stories produced that is the issue.
The Vimy Ridge film that I would like to see documented would be a straight forward telling of the story from the background of the battle to the end of the battle. The significance of the taking of Vimy Ridge both as important to the war and even more importantly to the history of Canada would be the underlying theme of the film. No romance – no time shifting – no other locales – no worried families on the home front – no present day memories – no politics – no social comment. Just an accurate re-telling of the battle and what it means for Canada.
There’s a film like this missing from Canada’s history. I would love there to be a film like this that Canadians (especially older secondary school students and post-secondary history students) could return to year after year when they want something to watch that treats the subject in an honorable, memorable, entertaining way that would make them feel proud to be Canadian and remember the sacrifices that those before them made. It needs to be accessible to all and speak to all Canadians in a respectful manner so that it can be something to turn to in times of patriotism.
The problem with historical fiction films is that there is always going to be criticism of historical events – at times, it can’t be avoided. The use of historians celebrated in their field to ensure that all important historical events are retold properly is essential. Historical accuracy is so important, from materials to political decisions to sets to costumes. Even then, when historical films have it right, there can still be criticism, especially in the portrayal of characters and what they do on screen. It’s important to note that even the best historical films have taken a certain creative license to make a dramatic and entertaining film.
So one day, I hope to see this film (or any other film with the same attributes) make it to screens not only in Canada, but to screens around the world. I think it is an important part of Canada’s history.
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