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National Film Board of Canada, 1979.
Distributed by National Film Board of Canada #106C0179107.
16mm Film. 24 min. 3 sec., colour, sound. $410.00.

Grades 10 and up.
Reviewed by Gary Goulson.

Volume 11 Number 3.
1983 May.

The descriptive release for this film says in part:

         Gopher Broke, through the reminiscences
         of the retired sergeant, brings back the era of
         the Great Depression. Care has been taken to recreate
         the physical aspect and atmosphere of a small Prairie
         town in the Thirties. Archetypes of that period walk
         the main street, contributing color, and their opinions.
         Part of the Adventures in History series, this short
         drama evokes the restlessness of a people whose lives
         were not rooted by the exigencies of a job. There were
         no jobs. The film leavens this hard truth with comical
         situations which do not, however, mask the seriousness
         of the times.

What is apparently intended as a half-comic, half-serious vignette of a painful period rings false. Worse than that, the characters are a succession of comic caricatures. In trying to be cute, the producers have made the people seem pathetic and ridiculous. The real dilemma of hopeless-ness-for young and old-has been missed completely.

This is all very sad because the National Film Board has done other memorable things with this same era, the poignant Drylanders for instance.

I hope Canadian men and women who lived through the depression and Canadian school children who are trying to discover what it was really like are not subjected to Gopher Broke.

Gary Goulson, Faculty of Education, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC.
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