John Walker's Passage (Canadian Cinema, Volume 9) by Darrell Varga

By Darrell Varga

John Walker is considered one of Canada's such a lot prolific and significant documentary filmmakers and is understood for his many considerate, individually inflected movies. His masterwork, Passage, centres on Sir John Franklin's failed day trip to discover the ultimate hyperlink of the Northwest Passage connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans during the Canadian Arctic. It additionally supplies us the tale of John Rae, the Scottish explorer who came upon the destiny of Franklin and the ultimate hyperlink within the passage, yet used to be left to the margins of background. Walker's movie brings to this tale a layering of dramatic motion and behind-the-scenes documentary photos that construct pressure among the tale of the prior and interpretations of the present.
Darrell Varga offers a detailed research of Passage, situating it inside of Walker's wealthy physique of labor and the Canadian documentary culture. Varga illuminates how the movie should be seen during the lens of Harold Innis's theories of verbal exchange and tradition, starting up the paintings of this nice Canadian political economist to movie reviews.

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I draw upon Innis in this chapter and then return to him at the conclusion of the book with the intention of making theory understandable by starting with the film. 47 This page intentionally left blank 3 Passage: The Film The film we are making is the finding of our story. John Walker, addressing the assembled actors in Passage No one knows with absolute certainty what happened to John Franklin and his crew. Franklin’s body was never found and no written records have been discovered, though there have been important related discoveries made through Inuit testimony and archeological research.

The American distributors provide massive discounts in order to disarm the development of alternatives. The example used in the film is the sale of an hour of American programming, at the time selling for $60,000USD, sold at the ‘third world’ rate of $500. This is explained as a great favour and direct subsidy to local broadcasters. Under the system of market logic, the lack of money is a devaluing of local culture. It is at the margins of the mainstream that Walker goes to find points of resistance to cultural hegemony.

The advice is elegant in its simplicity; first of all, that a photographer is not simply making images, that the photographer must above all have something to say about the world. Walker was initially interested in Strand’s political filmmaking with the non-profit social activist group Frontier Films. In his film Manhatta (made in 1921 with Charles Sheeler) the portrait of the city is one of the first times we see documentary imagery used in a poetic and expressionistic manner, and this is years before Grierson would coin the term documentary in 1926.

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