Candian Film and Literature (Fall,
Montreal vu par...
1."Desperanto" (or "Let
Sleeping Girls Lie" Patricia Rozema) 讓她安臥 羅芝瑪
"My experience of Montreal is closely lilnked
with my relationship with a foreign language. In general it's a city
where the smallest sound that comes out of your mouth is a political act,
and if you don't speak French well, which is the case with me, you appear
infantile, in trying to break through that barrier. ...
It is no accident that I titled my film Desperanto,
a play on Esperanto, the name of the universal langauge whose promoters
hope could be spoken and understood by everyone in a linguistic utopia.
In my film, subtitles are, in a way, the missing link which guide the main
character (Sheila McCarthy) and langauge becomes an object which can be
manipulated. It's only thorugh the bias of fiction--music, film and
dreams--that she is able to enter this 'other' world." (Rozema)
What does the Torontonian housewife expect from Montreal?
Where does she get her expectation? How does she prepare herself
for her night out?
How does she behave at the party? Why does
she say that she is a dancer?
Insiders vs. Outsiders:
How do the Montrealers in the party respond to her?
Who is the other outsider in the film?
What is presented as the major problem between this
housewife and the Montrealers?
What kinds of gazes and looks are cast between the
outsiders and insiders? Why does the filmmaker have the mismatch
of their amorous glances concur with the appearance of the red stain?
Fairy-Tale, subtitles & the film Decline of
the American Empire:
How is fairy-tale (Cinderella, The Little Red Riding
Hood) used in the film?
What are the other elements of fantasy?
How are subtitles used and played with? When do the subtitles in
the film look weird?
The two that come with ambulance are actually Denys
Arcand and Genevieve Rioux, who are respectively the director and a leading
actress in The Decline of the American Empire. How do they
fulfill the protagonist's wish?
2.La toile du
Temps ("The Canvas of Time" Jacque Leduc) 時光畫布 樂笛客
note: Jacques Viger, the first
mayor of Montreal (1833-1836)
|French-Canadian antiquarian and archaeologist, b. at Montreal, 7 May,
1787; d. 12 Dec., 1858. He studied at the Sulpician college of Montreal.
During the war of 1812 he served as captain in the "Voltigeurs" under de
Salaberry. He was elected the first Mayor of Montreal (1833), and
strove to improve its sanitary condition. Although he wrote little, his
reputation as an archaeologist was universal, and the greatest contemporary
historians of France and the United States have drawn from his collection
of MSS., the fruit of forty years research. He compiled a chronicle under
the title of "Sabretache" (28 vols.), wherein he gathered plans, maps,
portraits, with valuable notes illustrating many contested historical points.
He was the founder of the "Historical Society of Montreal". Pius IX honoured
him with the knighthood of the Order of St. Gregory the Great. (source:
Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XV)
The Director's Words:
"What interested me was to take the city as a subject, rather than
as a setting. I quickly realized that, like most Montrealers, I didn't
know the history of my city, which can be really fascinating. One
thing led to another, and, along with Marie-Carole de Beaumont[co-script-writer
with Leduc), I became interested in Jacque Viger, Montreal's first mayor.
A film is often a number of coincidences. This one came about with
the discovery of Jacque Viger, who seemed to be a fascinating character.
We also wanted to make the viewer smile. I've mostly made 'serious'
films, and I felt as though a change of tone was in order." (Leduc)
The film traces the history of the portrait of Jacque Viger from the moment
of its creation to its "re-creation" (year 1992), tracing about eight moments
of this history of Montreal. Literally,
these moments are:
1. 1850 -- the making of the portrait,
2. 1880 -- the senile servant with the portrait meeting the census-taker,
3. 1889 -- the death of the census-taker,
4. 1912 -- the immigrant's not paying the rent,
5. merry-making in a tavern,
6. 1940 -- a woman's getting the portrait from a Catholic school for
her lover, who is going to the war,
7. 1967 -- young couple's throwing out the portrait,
8. the studio.
1. Why are these moments significant to Montreal? Why is Viger
important? What does he symbolize? How is Viger looked at in
What roles do the servant, the census-taker, the immigrants, a mistress
and the young couple play respectively in this film?
Pay attention to usage of the stage, and, as its backdrop, the painting,
documentaries, historic photos, fire, firework as well as real humans.
How do they mean?
What are the implications of "Nothing is more beautiful than truth"?
derniere partie ("The Last Game" Michel Brault) 最後一賽 柏哈特
"I've made something in the neighborhood of one
hundred short films in my life, so it's a structure that I'm familiar with.
Jean Rouch once said, 'we should be making ten minute long features. .
. ' Also, I enjoy working with rules, within certain limitations.
As far as Montreal goes, it is a place where we
tear everything down to build from the ground up, where we're progressively
killing the city. The destruction of the couple in the film is a
parable for the city I once loved. Montreal has lost its soul.
Montreal no longer exists. . .That's the reason I don't show it and
why I use what might be seen as the most 'Montreal' of activities--hockey"
Where do you see the feminine perspectives
in the film? (e.g. the opening scene; the focus on the wife in the
stadium; the words not spoken but heard by the audience)
What does the wife want? What's the essential
for her? When is she hurt most? What does the "crack" mean
What are the husband's problems (e.g. retirement,
lack of understanding, etc.)
4.En Passant ("Passing
Through" Atom Egoyan) 旅途一瞥 伊格言
"The voice in the film is conceived as a poem.
I had originally written it two years ago in a hotel room in Japan.
I loved walking through the streets of Tokyo, just letting my feelings
take over. But I knew that when I got home I would have to share
my impressions of my trip with everyone. My way of seeing the city
had been altered as a result of the experience. This became the starting
point for the film, although, of course, it was adapted to Montreal. .
I was also very attracted by the interest shown
by my two characters in visual representation. For him, the pictogram
is a form of maximum simplification for certain emotions or feelings which
normally demand a much more detailed approach. For her it's the opposite.
She captures extremely fleeting instants and tests her faculties of observation.
She is testing her ability to reproduce these faces in the hopes of creating
an intimacy that, in reality, doesn't exist." (Egoyan)
(Lea Pool) 失去記憶的城市 雷而璞
The woman: Follow Egoyan's lead, try to contrast
the woman with the man in the film. What work does the woman do?
How is her hobby related to her work and the airport (where she works)?
Why does she takes off her black gloves on seeing a man caressing a woman's
The man: Unlike Rozema's piece, Egoyan's focuses
on the visual contact of an outsider with a city. What
does the man do as a tourist? Of the things he does, which are typical
of tourist and which are not? What roles do pictograms take
in his travel in Montreal?
The voice: How do you characterize the voice
he listens to? Does the city become a woman through the voice?
After introducing the famous buildings in the city, the voice stops introducing
the tourist spots. Instead, it starts to challenge the tourist's
abilities to understand the city, and then it shows its understanding of
the tourist. What do you make of it? Are there three voices
"It's the route of an ambulance, which is, obviously,
very fast since it's a question of saving a life. But I wanted to
show all the shots of Montreal in slow motion, in contrast to the actual
speed of the vehicle. These places seem to be out of sync, their
rythm has no relationship with real life. This is the concrete city,
downtown, where the architecture is impressive, but also cold and unknown.
The areas I show are not the areas where people live. The are places
without memory. Usually in my film it is my characters who have no
past. Here it is the city, while my character is able to remember.
The state of urgency that exists in the film is
linked to my impression that others always have 'time,' as if there was
no hurry, as if we could live forever. There's an extremely agonizing
contrast for me between my desire to live as fully as possible and the
slowness, the weight, of existence. In this film, you can see this
idea with the ambulance rushing through the night carrying a woman hanging
between life and death contrasting with shots of a city that stretches
on forever. I find the resulting distortion interesting. Between
the two, memory can be born. A series of sequential images retrace
the most intense moments from this woman's life. It's the first time
in my career that I tap into memories like this, very autobiographical,
even if everything is transposed and adapted for narration. ..."
Arcand) 另類視角 阿坎德
Structure: The film shows a woman on the verge
of death and being sent by an ambulance to a hospital, while the camera
pan (in different angles) over a lot of city scenes. Juxtaposed with
the city scenes are glimpses of the woman's past. In between,
we have the woman's body, seriously injured and exposed for emergency treatments.
Sarah's past: What moments of the woman's
(Sarah) past does the film present? Are there recurrent themes in
these scenes (e.g. between the Sarah the young girl and her parents, between
Sarah the young adult and her lovers)? What could have gone
wrong in the woman's life?
The City vs. Woman: What's even harder to
understand is the city scenes. Lea Pool has pointed out very clearly
that she wants to make a contrast between the fleeting, urgent and the
slow and permanent, the one with memory and the other without. What
other contrasts can you make between the city and the woman? Or maybe
how do we connect the memories deep in her mind to the camera's views of
the city? (Clues: pay close attention to 1). camera angles and the
images of the buildings of different kinds; 2) the symbolic meanings of
oxygen mask, the electric shock and IV drip.)
The ending: The film shows the ambulance rushes
through darkness (and dark building) towards a hospital until it arrives
at the hospital at dawn. What do you make of the ending, about the
flashback of lesbian lovers, and the female victim's response to a male
rescuer with her hand, her eyes and then her question, "why"? How
is it related to the title?
Script: Paule Baillargeon
"It was the first time I'd come across such a precise and detailed description
of a passionate love written by a woman. Why does this elderly lady
begin to talk after thirty years of silence? It's a bit of mystery,
although she's talking more to her husband than to the young woman.
For me, the city of Montreal was a pretext. The result allows
us to see the innumerable possibilities inherent in the same subject.
It's like a very revealing exercise on style. The contrast is absolutely
How is the Montreal diplomat presented?
Who are the "Others"? Montreal? Montreal women? Or the