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Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Once Upon a Time in Canada

Once Upon a Time in the West is an epic Sergio Leone spaghetti western. Once Upon a Time in America is Leone's gangster odyssey. Once Upon a Time in Mexico is the third chapter in Robert Rodriguez' El Mariachi series. Bollywood has Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai. There are even two Once Upon a Time in China films. 

I think a notable Canadian director - perhaps David Cronenberg would be a good choice - should direct Once Upon a Time in Canada, with a story just as rooted in our national mythology as the other "Once Upon a Time" films. In keeping with Cronenberg's dark sensibilities, perhaps it could be the story of a Canadian of European descent and a Canadian Inuit who embark on an ill-fated ice-fishing expedition. It could begin in medias res, with the two stranded on an ice floe that's calved off the main shelf due to climate change. As the floe drifts through the frigid Arctic Ocean, the pair could share stories in flashback about their respective experiences...both growing up as Canadians, but with experiences wholly alien to each other. They argue politics and the merits (or lack thereof) of Canadian culture; they can't even agree if there is such a thing, and if the aboriginal experience is part of it or something wholly separate. As they waver between suspicion, rage, grudging respect and enduring companion ship, the midnight sun circles overhead, watching their struggle dispassionately. In the end, an American nuclear submarine surfaces to rescue them, mere seconds after they die of exposure. An exhausted polar bear beaches itself on the floe and stares at the corpses as the American sailors look on. Pan up to the midnight sun and fade to brilliant white; roll credits.

What do you think? Is that Canadian enough?


Stephen Fitzpatrick said...

My Canada includes optimism! Fascinating idea though.

Vern said...

If I've learned anything from TV Canada is all about road hockey, Tim Bits, and probably some mountains with a wheatfield in front of it. Not sure how you can work those elements into your proposed storyline but if you ditch Cronenberg and maybe get Anne of Green Gables to direct instead, you can have the European and Inuit couple getting divorced in a small mountain town while a road hockey tournament is going on.

"Jeffetable Farm" said...

Have you ever read any Richard Rohmer?

I should clarify, have you ever read any of the speculative Canadian fiction by Major-General (ret.) Richard Heath Rohmer, OC, CMM, DFC, O.Ont, KStJ, CD, OL, QC, JD, LLD... whom Wikipedia refers to as "Canada's Most Decorated Citizen"? He was Tom Clancy before Tom Clancy learned to spell his own name, except very, very Canadian.

I wouldn't put Rohmer's novels into the category of great prose, or maybe even good prose, but they are memorable and as bombastically Canuckle-headed as the spellbinding tribute to the True North Strong And Free at the 2010 Olympic Closing Ceremonies.

And Rohmer still alive and writing. He gets my vote for the Great Canadian Story. That is, if Earl is too busy, of course.

Barrow Troll said...

Cronenberg? No. Paul Haggis!

Sean Woods said...

Paul Haggis is a great choice for director.

I'd try to get Joseph Boyden to write it.

Earl J. Woods said...

Vern: I figure road hockey scenes and Tim Horton's trips would figure prominently in the flashbacks.

Jeff: I've read several of Rohmer's potboilers: Ultimatum!, Exxoneration!, Starmageddon, Separation Two, probably a couple of others. They're pretty bad, but they're page turners.