A film about the battle for Monte Cassino – one of the most bitterly-fought land campaigns of World War II – is being made to coincide with the battle’s 70th anniversary. Its British director John Irvin told the BBC he didn’t want to make a film that was “merely a bloodbath”. “It’s a moving story of tenderness, love and hope with a sense of salvation within it,” he said.
Irvin’s previous films include Hamburger Hill and The Dogs of War.
Over several months in 1944, 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. During the harshest Italian winter on record, the mountainous terrain around the world-famous abbey provided the ideal protection for the German Army. The abbey was destroyed by aerial bombing in February 1944, but not before the German troops had rescued its treasures from destruction.