Back to all films

The Green Box: At The Heart Of a Purple Heart

A film by Holly Barden Stadtler and Vicki Hughes

The Green Box: The Heart of a Purple Heart is a documentary that tells the story of a World War II bomber pilot Robert Kurtz, whose experiences in the conflict were emblematic but unknown. Unknown that is until his youngest son, who was only two when his father died, set out to learn about the dad he never knew. What Jim Kurtz uncovered about Robert led to a new understanding of the war, and a deep love for his parent. He learned that his father was a hero, and a man who, in his service, took part in legendary events. He learned about the depth of his parents’ relationship, and how that relationship may have saved his father’s life. Jim Kurtz wrote a book, THE GREEN BOX, which recounts his search for his father, and tells the story of his father’s experiences: as a pilot, his crash and capture in Austria, his imprisonment in the most famous World War II prisoner of war camp, Stalag Luft III, his participation in the infamous winter death march across Poland and Germany, and his ultimate liberation by General Patton.  The documentary weaves both stories; we follow Jim on his search and recreate Robert’s experiences during the war using both archival and contemporary footage, including re-enactments.  And since the book was published, Jim has learned more about his dad, and met others whose lives were woven with his father’s.  As the 75th anniversary of World War II approaches, the surviving participants of the conflict are dying; their stories are sliding into the mists of history. This film captures some of those stories, preserving them for future generations. It also reveals that it is never too late: never too late to learn more about our families or our history, and never too late to get to know people we love. The Green Box: The Heart of a Purple Heart will tell that story in its excitement and beauty, and celebrate the lives of the “greatest generation” through the life of one of its ‘ordinary’ heroes.

Associated Members

Holly Stadtler, Independent Filmmaker


Vicki Hughes, Producer


We are grateful for the generous support of our sponsors:

Massachusetts Cultural Council
Lowel Cultural Council
Cabot Family Charitable Trust
Liberty Mutual Foundation
City of Boston Arts and Culture