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H. Leslie Smith

Macubah Production, 1989.1/2 inch VHS cassette. 24 min. $375.00 or 16mm film $650

Grades 5 and up/Ages 11 and up
Reviewed by Marilyn Aldworth.

Volume 17 Number 5
1989 September

This film documents the develop­ment of a viable transportation route through the treacherous Fraser River Canyon in British Columbia. A collage of historical paintings, archival stills, and re-enactments tied together with live shots enhance the struggle and toil of the men who worked on this pas­sageway.

Technically and visually this film is very well done. Smith, an engineer by profession, has also made a film of the Kwakiutl Indians and their fishing grounds called Kleena. I felt the narration of Perilous Gateway was overdone in places - too many over­worked adjectives and not enough change in pace or style. It would have been more effective if Smith let the pictures speak for themselves. The tone of the narration was too "pack­aged" and a first person oral history (where available) interspersed throughout the film would have been a nice touch and would serve to change the tempo. A stronger sense of geo­graphical progression would have lied in the various aspects of this historical documentary.

It is an interesting film that covers many topics including the Cariboo gold rush, native fishing rights, the Hudson's Bay Company, Simon Fraser, and the Royal Engineers. Perilous Gateway would supplement many areas of the curriculum and be an asset for study­ing British Columbia or Canadian history. Anyone driving the Fraser Canyon route, which is still a major transportation route, just has to look down at those steep cliffs and the rushing water to realize what a feat it was to develop this gateway. Recom­mended.

Marilyn Aldworth, North Vancouver School District, Vancouver, B.C.
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