Grey Owl (UK/ Canada, 2000)

greyowlDirected by: Richard Attenborough. I’m not sure what drew me to this movie. I’d seen bits and pieces of it on TV back when I used to watch TV endlessly. I think this British/Canadian co-production with an A-list (at the time) Hollywood star of the Bond movies was held up as a shining example of Canadian historical film. And even though this isn’t a very good movie, this is still a pretty towering example of Canadian culture in film. Frankly, it’s a pretty bad movie but it’s still way better than Passchendaele, and it’s high budget and mainstream enough to make more of a popular impact than, say, most Don McKellar movies. And, as I usually consider myself a fairweather booster of Canadian film, I thought I’d give this one a little peek. It was about what I thought it would be: a look at a really interesting historical figure (and Grey Owl certainly was interesting, not least for his conservation work, but also for someone who likes to nerd out about the crisis of identity held by dominant groups, WASPS, with no ethnicity of their own), but told in a pretty mushy, one dimensional, generalized way, firmly within the bounds of the Great Man historical film. The solitary man living for noble causes, at one with nature, the only authentic man around, saved by the love of a good woman, etc. Despite itself, though, the film manages to be pretty involved and bizarre simply due to the incongruity between Pierce’s obviously white skin and the Aboriginal environment he’s put himself in. I’m sure many cultural studies papers have been written about the fact that this celebration of environmental conservation, elevation of Aboriginal culture and its way of life, centers on a white guy with feathers in his hair. But, barring the obvious objections, this is somehow an enjoyable movie for me, even if it is a little cringeworthy at times. But really, I’m a sucker for baby beavers.

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One response to “Grey Owl (UK/ Canada, 2000)

  1. Pingback: List of Judgements, Anno Domini 2013 | Offhand Reviews·

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