The Couch Potato Report – May 3rd, 2008
This week The Couch Potato Report peels the first Canadian talkie, along with a diving bell, a butterfly and some classic Caballeros!
If you ask most film buffs to name you the very first film with sound, just about all of them could tell you that the answer is the 1927 film THE JAZZ SINGER with Al Jolson.
But if you ask those same buffs what the very first Canadian film with sound was, you might not find very many people who can provide you with the answer.
Except for me!
The first Canadian film with sound was the 1931 made-in-Newfoundland film THE VIKING.
Now, you might be thinking “Wait a minute!! In 1931 Newfoundland was owned by Britain…and THE VIKING features an all American cast and crew…so how is it even considered to be Canadian?!?”
Well, Newfoundland is part of Canada NOW and the film features cold, barren landscapes, lots of snow, and rugged, but jovial people.
You tell me, is that not Canadian?!?!
Anyway, as the FIRST Canadian film made featuring sound, THE VIKING is a Canadian classic…albeit one in name only. This is not a classic film.
The acting is a bit stiff, the Newfoundland accents are less than authentic, and the story – a love triangle between a woman and two men, one who is all wrong for her, the other who would be perfect – is one that we’ve seen dozens and dozens of times before…but when this film was made in 1931, I suspect the love triangle was a new thing…one that had only been seen less than a dozen times.
What makes THE VIKING a film that is worth seeing, especially if you love movies, is the historic element of it, and the Newfoundland locations they used.
The action in the picture comes from the seal hunt, and the movie was filmed during the hunt, so there are actual sealers, the amazing ice floes, and some ships and a sea that you may never get to see up close.
No, THE VIKING isn’t a classic film, but it is a Classic Canadian as it was this nation’s first film to feature sound. So if that comes up in a trivia game, now you know.
Oh, and if you are wondering what the very first Canadian film was…the answer to that is E.P. Sullivan’s and William Cavanaugh’s EVANGELINE.
It came out in 1913 and it no longer exists, except for a few stills taken from promotional material.
But THE VIKING…this Canadian film does still exist…and it is now available on DVD.
Up next this week is the Academy Award nominated film THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY and this is a spectacular movie!!!
This film is the true story of a well-known magazine editor from France named Jean-Dominique Bauby.
In 1995 at the age of 43, Jean-Do suffered a stroke that paralyzed his entire body, except his left eye.
He was unable to speak or to move his head and his only means of communication was to blink his eye – one blink for yes, two blinks for no – as his loved ones and doctors read an alphabet to him.
Using his eye, he dictates his memoirs and both in his original book, and this fascinating film, and he eloquently describes the aspects of his interior world, from the psychological torment of being trapped inside his body to some of the stories that he imagines from places he’s only visited in his mind.
THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY was nominated for four Academy Awards in February, including the categories of writing and directing, and this is an incredible film that I think you should see, and I highly reccommend that you do!
I also highly reccommend our next film this week too…but from the opposite end of the spectrum. I highly reccommend that you stay away from this would-be fantasy epic.
What a boring waste of time THE GOLDEN COMPASS turned out to be!!
THE GOLDEN COMPASS is based upon the first novel in Philip Pullman’s trilogy His Dark Materials.
Starring Daniel Craig – the latest JAMES BOND and Oscar winner Nicole Kidman the film is about an orphan living in a fantasy based parallel universe in which a dogmatic theocracy threatens to dominate the world.
When Lyra’s friend is kidnapped, she travels to the far North in an attempt to rescue him and rejoin her uncle.
Now, I suspect that if you liked the book – whether you know it under it’s British title “Northern Lights” or as “The Golden Compass” as it was published in the U.S. – you might enjoy the film, but I have not read it, and the film – even with a cast full of actors I enjoy, admire and respect – just didn’t hold my interest.
Plus, some of the special effects looked great, while others looked awful….yeah, this film just doesn’t work. Even though I usually love fantasy films, I can’t be bothered spending any more time talking about THE GOLDEN COMPASS.
The final release that I have for you this week is the much more entertaining, and fun CLASSIC CABALLEROS COLLECTION, featuring Walt Disney’s still interesting 1942 SALUDOS AMIGOS and it’s 1944 sequel THREE CABALLEROS.
This DVD allwos you to join Goofy, Donald Duck and Walt Disney himself as they travel to Latin America to find new stories to tell, and experience all the music, beauty and excitement the region has to offer.
Admittedly, the CLASSIC CABALLEROS COLLECTION is for die-hard Disney, Donald Duck, Goofy, or psychedelia fans only…but for those folks, this DVD offers some dated, trippy fun.
The CLASSIC CABALLEROS COLLECTION featuring THREE CABALLEROS and SALUDOS AMIGOS, the would-be fantasy epic THE GOLDEN COMPASS, the fascinating, highly recomended film THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY and THE VIKING – the FIRST Canadian film ever made with sound are all available now on DVD.
Coming up on the next Couch Potato Report
The Canadian made film HOW SHE MOVE is about a high school student who is forced to leave her private school to return to her old, crime-filled neighborhood where she re-kindles an unlikely passion for the competitive world of step dancing.
Also next week is the DELUXE EDITION of the Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan film YOU’VE GOT MAIL and the failed romance drama P.S. I LOVE YOU.
I’m Dan Reynish. I’ll have more on those, and some other releases, in seven days.
For now, that’s this week’s COUCH POTATO REPORT.
Enjoy the movies and I’ll see you back here next time on The Couch!
11297 – Here are some DVDs to watch, just in case you don’t want to go and see “Iron Man” this weekend.
The Couch Potato Report – May 3rd, 2008