Jan. 28th, 2011

beboots: (Canada "discovery" history)
 History has been on my mind lately. (Can't help it. It's my major.) I thought that I'd recommend one of the most amazing documentary series ever made. That's not just my opinion - it got a lot of critical acclaim when it was released about a decade or so ago. It's called Canada: A People's History, and essentially goes through the entirety of Canadian history, as best can be known. One of the neat things about their approach was the way they used primary documents of the era: they chose "ordinary" people who had left writing behind. When they "interview" people, what those folks are saying is what was actually written. The narrator has original text, but those making speeches are quoting from historical documents. The actors were incredibly well-chosen, I believe. They went out and got actual francophones or Britons or Iroquois to get authentic accents. <3

Another epic thing about this documentary is that it was filmed twice. All of the actors are bilingual, and the scenes were filmed once in English and another time in French. It also has a beautiful soundtrack... a CD of which I actually stumbled upon on a shelf in the Rutherford Library while doing research on Confederation this summer. If I knew how to use sendspace or whatever, I would upload it for you all. 

In any case, I cannot recommend this documentary series enough. Watching it in my formative years is one of the reasons that I love Canadian History even today. Be wary if you order online, though, because some people have jacked up the prices unreasonably. There are four seasons: I love the first two, mostly, because I'm biased towards pre-first world war history. ;) One of the cool things about season one is that large chunks of it are told from the point of view of native tribes. It doesn't start with John Cabot and Jacques Cartier "discovering" the land, but with sensitively-done native origin stories as well as some pre-European contact native history like intertribal warfare amongst the Iroquois. It's intense. 

Unfortunately, there are only a few clips online, but here is one of the best ones I could find, and it unfortunately cuts off towards the end. It's one of those buildups near the beginning of the long episode to foreshadow what will happen throughout. I think that the CBC has actually made a point of deleting video content online to encourage teachers and fans to actually buy the DVDs instead of just using a handful of clips online to make a point. ;) And seriously, invest in them. They are amazing. <3 

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