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John Irvin to make film on the battle for Monte Cassino

Story by Jack Foley

JOHN Irvin is to make a film concerning the World War II battle for Monte Cassino to coincide with its 70th anniversary.

In an interview with the BBC, the acclaimed filmmaker said that he has long been fascinated by the bloody campaign, dating back to his school days when he had been taught by a history master whose brother had died there.

The battle itself saw 200,000 soldiers participating from over 30 different countries and incurred heavy losses on both sides.

Some 55,000 Allied and 20,000 German soldiers were injured or killed.

And Irvin himself said that the campaign was not one of the Allies greatest moments of the war given the “jaw-dropping” number of casualties.

“A third of which were inflicted by friendly fire,” he said.

But Irvin does not intend to make a film that depicts the ensuing bloodbath, describing the picture as “a moving story of tenderness, love and hope with a sense of salvation within it”.

The story will recall the real-life tale of two survivors – a wounded American soldier and the Italian nurse who cared for him. Casting is underway with the intention of shooting on location in Poland next year.

Dr Peter Caddick-Adams, a professional military historian and author of the recently-published Monte Cassino: Ten Armies in Hell, is advising on the film.

Monte Cassino was the focal point of a series of German defensive positions stretching across the Italian peninsula that prevented the Allied advance to Rome.

Over several months in 1944, and during the harshest Italian winter on record, the Allies attempted to take the stronghold but the conditions, coupled with the mountainous terrain around the world-famous abbey, provided the ideal protection for the German Army.

Irvin is no stranger to war films, having previously helmed Hamburger Hill and The Dogs of War.

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