Review: ‘Memories of Earth’

An old-fashioned nature docu redolent of Disney's "True-Life Adventures" a half-century ago, Canadian "Memories of Earth" duly combines educational info, handsome wilderness photography and impressionistic animation segments to explore indigenous tribal culture and wildlife on the Queen Charlotte Islands off the British Columbian coast.

An old-fashioned nature docu redolent of Disney’s “True-Life Adventures” a half-century ago, Canadian “Memories of Earth” duly combines educational info, handsome wilderness photography and impressionistic animation segments to explore indigenous tribal culture and wildlife on the Queen Charlotte Islands off the British Columbian coast. Message regarding our vanishing awareness to intertwined environmental/spiritual values is sometimes laid on with a heavy, even hokey, hand. Still, more straightforward aspects make this a viable item for suitable broadcasters.

Elderly veteran animator-illustrator Frederic Back reps p.o.v. here, to sometimes ponderous effect, as he’s shown around the islands by Haida tribal preservationist Jim Hart. Hart is a much less pretentious guide, though the animation sequences contribbed by Back — most depicting native creation legends — have an impressionistic pastel-and-watercolor charm. Pic’s earnestness O.D.’s as celestial choirs (amid Coplandesque orchestral score) weep at views of habitat-destroying forest clear-cutting, then celebrates when an animated eagle-spirit flies approvingly into Beck’s actual Quebec home. Thankfully, insights into Haida history and footage of land/sea/air creature life compensate, though lensing is curiously color-muted. Edition screened at Montreal fest sported French narration and overdubbing of English-speaking interviewees.

Memories of Earth

Canada

Production

A Max Films Television production. Produced by Jean Lemire. Executive producer, Roger Frappier. Co-producer, Claude Cartier. Directed by Jean Lemire.

Crew

Camera (color), Martin Leclerc, Georges Dufaux, Jacques Bouffard; editor, Alain Belhumeur; music, Simon Leclerk, Richard Seguin. Reviewed at Montreal World Film Festival (Panorama Canada), Aug. 29, 2002. French dialogue. Running time: 68 MIN.
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