Well, time to crack open the second DVD I got from the National Film Board of Canada. As I've blogged before, I've been conditioned to buy movies in pairs, so when I was looking for a second film to go along with Leonard Maltin's Favourites, my nostalgia went into overdrive when I spotted Canada Vignettes: A Love Story.
Who else out there remembers the Vignettes? Inspired by the success of the American's Bicentennial Minutes, the CBC commissioned the National Film Board to do something similar. The end result was Canada Vignettes: a series of short films, maximum length 5 minutes, that highlighted certain aspects of Canadian history and culture. Being from the National Film Board, they ran the gamut from very serious documentaries to educational but hilarious cartoons. CBC would run them in between programs, and they proved to be so popular, that other Canadian TV stations started showing them, too. A staple on Canadian television throughout the 1980s, they were very much the forefather of the beloved Heritage Minutes. And the DVD Canada Vignettes: A Love Story compiled 36 of the most remembered and beloved.
Needless to say, watching this DVD this afternoon was quite the nostalgia trip. As I was a kid in the 1980s, I mostly remembered the cartoons, and I'm pretty sure those ones were used as filler on Saturday morning. There were ones like Bill Miner, chronicling the tale of Canada's greatest train robber, credited with coining the phrase "Hands up!" and how he was finally apprehended when a botched robbery saw him getting away with just a bottle of liver pills. Another beloved one, Fort Prince of Wales, detailing the auspicious history of the fort and the lone battle it was in. Logger, all about the advances in logging technology on the west coast...Newfoundland, about how the Vikings were the first to North America. I had fond memories of The Egg, about an egg that tries to seal up its cracks as it begins to hatch. What that says about Canadian culture, I don't know. And there was also Maple Leaf, taking the optical illusion of how the Maple Leaf on the flag looks like two people talking, and how it morphs into all kinds of faces.
Over on the documentary side, we've got the super-serious ones. I've already blogged about the one about the Bluenose, and how it almost comes across as a 1930s newsreel, and it's bummer of an ending as we see the rotting wreckage of the original Bluenose. And then there's the more whimsical, like the one about the origin of the town of Flin Flon's name, or the discovery of the McIntosh apple.
Some are hilariously dated, such as Love on Wheels, which is all about kids at the roller disco.
Some seem to have misplaced satire, like Instant French, all about an English-to-French translation device that translates all English into "I do not speak French." Comes across like a bad Air Farce segment.
And then there are the ones that are strangely moving, like Ma Chere Albertine, which is a tale of a young woman visiting Montreal, and it's all told using images of vintage postcards of the time. Or The Performer, all about the guy who sings the national anthem at the Montreal Canadians games, and his daily routine.
I'm just giddy to have these on DVD. Of course, it's not all the Vignettes, but a good chunk of them are available free and streaming on the National Film Board website. It's great for scratching that nostalgia itch.
Oh, and of course it has the Log Driver's Waltz.