Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Beware of Falling Canoes

Upon reading my last post, friend and colleague/boss Rick Miller pointed me in the direction of another Bill Mason NFB great, "The Rise and Fall of the Great Lakes." This 1968 short is new to me - either that, or I've forgotten it - but it's nonetheless delightful, with slapstick humour, some really terrific special effects, and an ecological message that resonates to this day. Mason's dynamic and colourful cinematrography is still very much in evidence, too. Also, it looks like the main actor in this film played the lighthouse keeper in "Paddle."

These films remind me of what a treasure we have in the National Film Board. Talk about a great return on our tax investment - decades of classic films of all kinds!

Does anyone else out there have fond memories of films and/or filmstrips they saw in school? Drop me a line in the comments, and a link to the film would be even better.


The TripJeffs of Belleville said...

Gosh, my most vivid recollection of filmstrips has little to do with education.

Our teacher kept a rotation of classmates who could operate the filmstrip machine: democracy in the clasroom. On Kelly Mac---'s turn, he did okay for the first part of the filmstrip.

Then I remember very clearly sitting at my desk in the darkness and Kelly standing abaft the glowing filsmtrip projector: "Miss Shaye, I don't feel..."

But Kelly did not articulate his feeling in words so much as he did emit from his face as a massive glop of partially digested Irish stew. We learn to speak by standing up straight, but Kelly lost his voice when his throat filled with gluey stomach gunk and he bent right over the projector's cooling vent to relieve himself of his bad lunch. I was rather glad my desk was not next to the filstrip cart.

Mostly I recall the unholy smell, the room plunged into darkness because the hot bulb got coated in puke and shorted out, and later the string of swear words the poor janitor used when he was compelled to clean the thing out.

I also remember in a separate event how our class demanded that the teacher run the film on nutrition we just saw in reverse. The teacher did not mind, because he had to rewind the film anyway. Films on nutrition look hilarious run backwards. Unfortunately, the teacher burnt the film in the projector (which also looks hilarious to elementary school students). I guess there was a memo forbidding running films backwards after that, because a) my class did not get to see as many films as other classes, and b) we never ever saw a film run backwards again.

Earl J. Woods said...

Poor Kelly MacUrpsalot. :-( His misery is our entertainment!

Under The Jeffcan Sun said...

Okay, some more NFB goodness. I am struck by the way the films look a lot better on the NFB.ca website than they ever did in the classroom.

Susan's personal favourite is "The Log Driver's Waltz" (John Weldon, 1979). An early clue for men to understand What Women Really Want.

Also see:

Richard Condie, who if I remember correctly was a mentor to Cordell Barker, although both artists preferred working as solitary as possible - The Big Snit (1985)

Blackfly - Christpher Hinton (1991) My father surveyed part of Ontario in his teens, and I have a cousin who surveyed there as well. Dad also surveyed Victoria. Guess which region he liked better.

Boogie Doodle (1941) A Norman McLaren film that you can definitely show in a G-rating. Canadian abstract film-making at its peak, and a strong influence for similar work in Europe as well as...

The Dot And The Line: A Love Story In Lower Mathematics (Chuck Jones, MGM, 1965). This is not an NFB film, but you can find it on YouTube. Otherwise it's strangely an obscure film and hard to find. This despite being one of the greatest animated films ever, period, end of sentence. I only first saw it in my 30's. Absolute distilled genius. Very, very subtle, extremely well-spoken, full of wit... they don't make them like this anymore. Must-see viewing!

Benchmark said...

"To the vector belong the spoils." Love it! I'd never seen that one before. Thanks for the recommend.

Earl J. Woods said...

The Big Snit and Log Driver's Waltz are old favourites of mine - in fact, I blogged about Log Driver just a couple of days before Sylvia broke her leg in 2007.

I remember Blackfly, too. They're just as bad in Manitoba; poor Sylvia was surrounded by them when I took her to see Leaf Rapids.

Oh wow - I'm watching Boogie Doodle now and the memories are rushing back. We saw this in grade school too, and it's as amazing now as it was then. The artistry required to draw the animation directly onto the 35 mm film is mind-boggling to contemplate.


Shake your eyes here, shake your eyes there, why don't you join a, a, a shake-a-rock-n-roll band???

Thanks for the leads, Jeff!