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HUMANITIES 469 Seth Feldman and Joyce Nelson, editors. Canadian Film Reader Peter Martin Associates. 405 Eleanor Beattie. The Handbook of Canadian Film, 2nd edition Peter Martin Associates. 355 Martin Knelman. This Is Where WeCame In McClelland and Stewart. 176 Peter Harcourt. Movies and Mythologies: Towards a National Cinema eBC Publications. 171 Books in English on Canadian film have been few and far between over the years. Indeed, when Eleanor Beattie published the first edition of A Handbook of Canadian Film in 1973, her bibliography (pp 249-51) mentioned only three historical works on Canadian film written in English, along with one published bilingually, and all of these were pamphlets or special issues of periodicals. Since then a collection of reviews by Marshall Delaney (Robert Fulford) appeared in 1974, of which the first 82 pages were devoted to 'The Canadian Scene' (Marshall Delaney at the Movies: the Contemporary World as Seen 011 Film [peter Martin Associates, 1974]). John Hofsess, one year later, published a series of ten interviews with Canadian filmmakers (Illner Views: Ten Canadian Filmmakers [McGraw-Hill Ryerson, 1975]). The appearance in the last year of three new books and a new edition of an important reference work suggests growing confidence in the Canadian cinema on the part of critics and scholars. This keener scrutiny reveals a field too rich to be left to the patient efforts of archivists alone. It must be added, however, that these new books have by no means exhausted or even delved deeply into the subject. It has beer), and continues to be, the besetting sin of such books to be fragmentary or proleptic or both. Harcourt's book consists of a series of eight talks prepared for csc radio of which two concern Canadian cinema; Knelman has stitched together a series of re-written film reviews with a historical introduction and bridging material; Beattie's work is, by design, endopaedic (although at times irritatingly selective); the Feldman and Nelson book is, of course, an anthology, but one that is assembled in a rather uneven way. All of these works see future developments either in criticism or in the industry (filmmaking or exhibition) as the precondition for a better understanding of the distinctive characteristics of Canadian film. Beattie calls her work 'an open-ended listing: which aims to 'point out areas where further investigation and research are needed' (p ix), although it is far from dear how this 'pointing out' is achieved by the format of her book. Feldman and Nelson hope that their 470 LETTERS IN CANADA '977 anthology will 'generate a productive aura of dissatisfaction' and that there will be 'new research, new writing, new courses, lectures, conferences and retrospectives on the Canadian films discussed here, as well as those which have gone unmentioned' (p vii). Harcourt appeals for regular programming of Canadian films 'through specialized cinemas or through television, if we are going to understand our own national cinema' (pp 168-9). Knelman closes by asking whether 'the dream of a movie mythology of our own has finally come to pass' (p 170). All this would suggest that the conditions are still not ripe for an authoritative and scholarly account of the history of Canadian film: the critical groundwork needs to be laid, the access to primary sources must be improved, the culture is only just rich enough. Besides being fragmentary and prefatory, however, each of these works shows very serious omissions in the varying attempts to provide a sense of the film tradition in Canada. It is remarkable that the most prolific feature-film director in Canada, Jean-Pierre Lefebvre, receives scant attention. Knelman's only reference to him is for an acting role in Rejean"e Padovani (Arcand, 1973). There are two passing references in the Feldman and Nelson anthology. His importance is described by Harcourf (pp 163-5), but he is invoked chiefly for his views on the relationship between cinematic production and the 'entire economic and cultural situation.' Beattie does, it is true, include Lefebvre in her list of filmmakers, with filmography to '975, and a good basic bibliography. Beattie's Handbook, however, is oddly selective elsewhere in its listings . Since the first edition a number of names...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 469-472
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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