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Directed by Michael Scott. Produced by Derek Mazur, Seaton McLean, Daphne Ballon, and Michael Scott. Based on the story by Farley Mowat.
Muddy River Films/Atlantis Films, 199l. 95 minutes, VHS, $149.00.
Distributed by Magic Lantern Communications.
Unit #38 775 Pacific Rd., Oakville, Ont. L6L 6M4.

Subject Headings:
Canadian films.
Canadian literature (English)-20th century-Film and video adaptations.
Adventure films.

Grades 4 and up / Ages 9 and up

Reviewed by Patricia Miller.

Volume 20 Number 5
1992 October

Curse of the Viking Grave has the look and feel of a 1930s Saturday matinee adventure film. The story, which takes place in the 1930s or 1940s, unfolds with lots of action, adventure and an element of the supernatural. There are villains and heroes and, oh yes, there is romance, too! Even the setting, northern Manitoba (the film was shot entirely on location), harkens back to that era's fascination with the Canadian north.

A sequel to Lost in the Barrens ¹, the film centres on teenager Jamie McNair and his Cree friend, Awasis, who have discovered what appears to be a Viking grave. Jamie sends word of the find to one of his former teachers in the east and this attracts the interest of an internationally renowned "archaeologist" (in fact, an unscrupulous artefact dealer). Posing as a government official, the dealer locates Jamie and hires him as his guide to the site. Meanwhile, Awasis is haunted by a recurring nightmare in which Jamie is laid out on a funeral bier inside the Viking grave. Convinced that Jamie is heading into danger, Awasis and his sister Angeline set out to save him.

All of this makes for fast-paced, light-weight, entertaining family fare with the added bonus of some beautiful location footage. At times, the direction seems awkward, especially in the final scene, and many of the characters tend to be types. However, the native characters are portrayed honestly and the culture, sensitively. For all of its old-fashioned feel, modern themes do creep in. At one point, Connelly, the villainous artefact dealer (wonderfully played by Cedric Smith), shares his remorse at the impending destruction of the wilderness.

At $149.00, the video is recommended only for those libraries with hefty budgets or for those who may already have the companion video Lost in the Barrens in their collections.

Public performance rights are included in the price.

Patricia Miller is Coordinator of Children's Services at Surrey Public Library in Surrey, BC.

¹ Reviewed vol. XX/1 January 1992, p. 34.

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