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Produced by David Wilson; directed by Cynthia Scott
National Film Board of Canada, 1991. VHS cassette, 141 min., $34.95
Distributed by the National Film Board of Canada.

Grades 12 and up/Ages 17 and up

Reviewed by S.A.M. McCue.

Volume 21 Number 3
1993 May

To critique of The Company of Strangers is to critique a movie which in two short years has become a Canadian institution, right up there with Mon oncle Antoine, The Rise and Fall of the American Empire, and Anne of Green Gables. What does one say?

One can say simply that even after two years, and more than one viewing, this movie remains fresh in its viewpoint and visually beautiful. Director Cynthia Scott hits the viewer on many levels, and always in a style that demands superlatives. When a diverse collection of old (chronologically only) women is stranded in the wilderness, the results bring out all the cliches in a reviewer's vocabulary - charming, funny, heart­warming, tender and tough.

Spurning the physical difficulties of their situation, these women turn, as women have for generations, to each other. Where one is weak, another can be strong; where one lacks knowledge, another offers it. And they do it in a manner that refuses to succumb to one-up-manship; they do it in the spirit of sharing.

As I watched The Company of Strangers I thought how interesting it would be to show this movie to a class studying The Stone Angel or The Book of Eve? We have reason to be proud of many Canadian writers and filmmakers, but this movie reminded me of how well old women (not one of our more glamorous minorities) have been served.

From Margaret Laurence and Constance Beresford-Howe and Cynthia Scott we have learned that old age does not make women any less interesting, any less beautiful, or any less courageous. How few countries could attest that their artists have done such justice to such a wonderful group of people!

S.A.M. McCue, formerly the Library Services Consultant for the Cree School Board in Chisasibi, Quebec, now lives in Ottawa, Ontario.
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