Ocean. (Short Takes).
From John Spotton's The Railrodder to Rick Hancox's Home for Christmas to William D. MacGillivray's Stations, not to mention Pierre Berton's The National Dream and The Last Spike, the Canadian cinema has a remarkable, pardon the pun, track record in exploring the historical, cultural and mythopoeic resonances of the railroad. Montreal filmmaker Catherine Martin's latest documentary, Ocean, is a brilliant addition to a certifiably Canadian genre: rail movies. (Incidentally, Ocean was identified by Toronto International Film Festival's panel of critics and filmmakers as one of Canada's Top Ten films of 2002.) Ocean takes us from Montreal to Halifax aboard VIA Rail's famed train, The Ocean. Largely observational and with no narration, it's an impressionistic and elegiac journey to and through a Canada of small towns and in--between spaces where the accelerations of modernity seem far away indeed. In many ways, like its predecessors in the Canadian rail--movie tradition, Ocean is a film about the processes by whi ch Canada, in the 21st century, is being changed and redefined by continental North America's economic and social shifts. Out of seemingly prosaic, empirical images of the passing landscapes, the train's staff at work, and interviews with various passengers and small shop owners in the towns and villages along the way, Martin fashions a vivid evocation of those faraway forces eroding the traditional east--west national orientation in Canada. Of course, the wistful irony of Ocean is that the imperilled orientation was once literally and figuratively inscribed on our landscape by the railroad itself.
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|Article Type:||Movie Review|
|Date:||Jun 1, 2003|
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