"Death does not exist unless we forget to tell their stories."
- Isabel Allende

This is a story long overdue for the telling. When I became possessed by the story of John McCrae it was late August of 2005. I tentatively began the research because I was terrified that it had been done and somehow I'd missed it. Or that it was in the process of getting ready to be done. With great trepidation I did a Canadian copyright search and there it was as I feared, an "In Flanders Fields" - dramatic property. I threw up my hands. "Yes, of course someone else has already written this story." I wasn't surprised. Still I checked further hoping against hope that it wasn't a screenplay. It wasn't. It was a 1998 documentary of history and remembrance by the War Amps.

First I breathed a sigh of relief. Then I became astonished that this story had not been done. I embarked upon what I knew would be hundreds of hours of research.

So far, I've spent a week poring through the archives in The McCrae House Museum in Guelph, the house where McCrae was born in 1872. I've followed Major McCrae's footsteps through Belgium and France, from where he fought and treated wounded beside the Yser Canal in Flanders to Boulogne, France where then Lieutenant-Colonel McCrae, was Doctor in Charge of Medicine at No. 3 Canadian General Hospital from summer of 1916 to the winter of 1918.
I've walked in the bottom of the Grande Vallee´ Denacre where McCrae rode his beloved horse Bonfire nightly as he tried to shake off the hospital casualties of the day. Finally I've stood at his grave in the French seaside village of Wimereux where he died on January 28th, 1918.

This is a story whose time has come. There are only a handful of WWI veterans left, all well over 100 years of age. Our WWII veterans, now in their 80's and 90's, continue to leave us daily and in increasing numbers. We must not let their stories die with them. I plan to do whatever is necessary to bring this story, In Flanders Fields, to the big screen.

Pending final production arrangements I would like to see the feature film, In Flanders Fields premiere in theatres across Canada in November of 2008, the 90th anniversary of the Armistice, and eventually in all the nations that fought in WWI.

CTV CalgaryBonfire Pictures would like to thank CTV Calgary for supporting this project. CTV Calgary has generously provided a Script Development Grant for In Flanders Fields, the movie and entered into a Development Agreement with Bonfire Pictures.


The Story

When war breaks out in August of 1914, an idealistic 41 year old Canadian doctor and Boer War veteran, abandons a stellar medical career to answer the call to battle. But nothing in his one year stint in South Africa will prepare him for what he is about to experience on the banks of the Yser Canal, one mile north of the moated, mediaeval city of Ypres. Beautiful Ypres which is about to be pounded into oblivion by the giant guns of Kaiser Wilhelm II for daring to resist his strategic offensive plan.

The Allies are outmanned 2 to 1, outgunned 5 to 1, and faced with the unprecedented use of deadly chlorine gas. Major John McCrae and the 1st Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery along with the rest of the untried civilians that make up the bulk of the Canadian army, manage somehow to do the impossible. With some naivete and sheer guts, grit and heart they play a vital role in preventing the mechanized monster that is the modern German army from rolling through the little city of Ypres to conquer Paris and the western seaports.

In the middle of 17 straight days of battle so intense that McCrae cannot change, wash or sleep for more than a couple of hours at a time, a young friend from home is hit directly by a shell and blown literally to bits. In an outpouring of grief McCrae writes what will become the most famous war poem of all time. From a single tragic event, one man will galvanize the will of nations with fifteen simple, heartfelt lines.

This is the true story of Canadian soldier/physician/poet, John McCrae and in a baptism of fire, the coming of age of a young nation...In Flanders

Canada Copyright #1033103
by Susan Raby-Dunne WGAwest #1090849

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