Just forget the words and sing along

Friday, January 02, 2015

CanCon Movie Time!

So if you're ever looking to waste some time, one of the most interesting places to do it is at the National Film Board of Canada website.  If you've never visited their website, or downloaded their award-winning app, the National Film Board has spent the past few years digitizing literally thousands of their films and making them available streaming online for free.  It's great if you ever have fond memories of some of their cartoons, or feel nostalgic for Grade 3 movie day.

When I'm feeling nostalgic, I start looking up some of their Vignettes.  Remember these?  They seemed to dominate TV throughout the 1980s.  These short films, between 1-5 minutes in length, always highlighted a unique aspect of Canadian history or culture, and ran on TV in between the programs.  They were very much the forefathers of the beloved Heritage Minutes.  Of course, the most famous and most beloved one is the Log Driver's Waltz.  But in my last bout of nostalgia, I looked up the one detailing the history of the Bluenose.

The way it's all in black and white, with a doom and gloom narrator, it almost seems like a 1940s newsreel.  And I always found the end so sad, seeing the wreckage of the once-mighty ship, just sitting and rotting off the coast of some island.

Now it's really interesting to compare this to the Heritage Minute about the Bluenose, which takes half the time to construct a tale of high seas adventure.

It's an interesting contrast.  How do you want to remember the ship...as a wreck rotting on a reef, or as the legendary racing and fishing schooner?

Many many years ago, I blogged that most museums and interpretive centres seem to have a little theatre that shows a short film about the history of whatever it is the museum or interpretive centre is dedicated to.  "Why don't they sell that film on DVD in the gift shop?" I mused in my blog.

The last real vacation I took was about five years ago.  I went to an old college friend's wedding in Calgary, and took a few days to head out to Banff National Park.  One of the sights I saw was the Cave and Basin Hot Spring.  Once a bustling swimming pool and health spa, it is now an interpretive centre and historical site, detailing how the discovery of the hot spring, and the formation of a government department to look after and administer it, led to the creation of Canada's national park system.  Being an interpretive centre, they have a little theatre that shows a little film about the history of Banff.  And, of course, the film wasn't available on DVD in the gift shop.

So imagine my surprise when I searched for "Banff" on the National Film Board's website, and discovered that the Cave and Basin film was an official National Film Board production, and available for multiple repeat viewings on their website.  And if I really still want to buy it on DVD, I can do so from the National Film Board's online store.

So here's the little film you'll see if you ever find yourself at the Cave and Basin in Banff:  Steam, Schemes, and National Dreams: The Story of Banff National Park.

And now we conclude our broadcast day.  Customary to do so with the playing of the national anthem.  In their "recently added" section, the National Film Board had a music video for the national anthem that looked quite familiar.  And then it dawned on me.  When I was kid and just got cable, one of the channels was the PBS station out of Detroit.  To acknowledge their Canadian viewers, when PBS concluded their broadcast day, they would run this film for O Canada!  I thought it was something those PBS producers whipped up, but no, it's an official National Film Board production.

And as the National Film Board website points out, the recording of O Canada was the one made for the 1976 Olympics.  So every time Canada one a medal, this was the recording of O Canada that played.

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