I wrote Long March over ten years ago. I’ve always had an affinity for historical dramas, and the Great War seemed like an era that was woefully underrepresented in modern cinema. It was never meant to be a true story, or even based in truth. What I wanted was to set fictional events against historical events, and weave a story that veered between being a war drama and a supernatural thriller. I suppose that was my way of making the story more unique.
Long March follows the story of two men, one an American serving in the British Army and the other a German sniper. The story takes place against the Battle of Passchendaele, which ran from July to November of 1917. This battle, also known as “Third Ypres,” became famous both for the extreme numbers of casualties suffered over its duration, and also for the mud that so typified the landscape. When you see the very typical pictures of World War I “No-Man’s Land,” those nightmarish scenes of unimaginable mud, barbed wire, trenches and machine guns, Passchendaele embodies all of it. This video below gives some good background on the battle.
Long March is a work I am singularly proud of. I put an immense amount of work into the screenplay, particularly on research and characterization. I relied heavily on so many great books, particularly ones that gave either eye-witness perspectives of the battle or included actual letters written from soldiers in the field. Among those were Lyn MacDonalds amazing “1914-1918: Voices and Images of the Great War,” S.L.A. Marshall’s definitive history text, John Ellis’ incredible “Eye-Deep in Hell,” Max Arthur’s “The Faces of World War I,” H.P. Willmott’s photohistory of World War I, StokesBury’s “A Short History of World War I,” and Ernst Junger’s astonishing memoir, “A Storm of Steel.”
I think I succeeded in creating at least a mostly accurate portrayal of the time, even given the more fantastical nature of some events in the story. The overarching story of two men who are diatmetrically opposite reflections of one another, inevitably drawn together across the killing fields of World War I Belgium, is one of the best things I’ve ever written.
I hope you’ll take a moment to visit the Long March screenplay page and take a look. You can either read it right here on the site or download a .pdf. Either way, I invite you to a little taste of World War I and the bizarre events that take place therein.