________________ CM . . . . Volume IV Number 21 . . . . June 19, 1998

cover When the Dust Settles/Et la Poussière Retombe.

Louise Johnson (Director), Barrie Angus McLean (Producer).
Montreal, PQ: National Film Board of Canada, 1997.
7 min. 11 sec., VHS $29.95.
Order Number C0097 045.

Subject Headings:
Conflict management.

All grades / All ages.
Review by Deborah L. Begoray.

**** /4

Two neighbours [who happen to be gophers unlike NFB's other famous conflict film, Neighbours] wage a dirty little war with prairie dust and rocks and even an arrowhead for weapons. The gophers, who reminded me fondly of Chip and Dale, or perhaps Oscar and Felix, eventually reach an understanding, but not until a lively battle occurs. Watch for an innocent bystander worm frantically digging away from the conflict, and the combatants British farce-like discovery of two adjacent tunnels where each one suddenly finds the other! The humour is deftly handled, as is the building of empathy between these neighbours.

      The characters have detailed expressions which indicate to the viewer exactly how each is feeling. Their frantic movement through the gopher holes, pawing frantically as the dust flies, effectively tells the story in visual form. The film also uses sound effects to suggest gopher commentary and conversation, as well as the noises of the fight. Once again, the sounds are fully realized enough to tell the story. The colours are realistic - largely greys and browns - but Johnson does allow for occasional use of other flashes of colour; for example, an almost cartoon red to help depict a swollen toe. Focus throughout, however, remains on the message portrayed by the action of swirling brown and grey dirt [and grey and brown gophers].

      When the Dust Settles is intended as either a classroom support for schools, or as a tool for business seminars. Its purpose is to arouse discussion and debate about competition, aggression, cooperation and reconciliation. This film is part of UNICEF's "ShowPeace" series of wordless animated films. The film comes with an appropriate selection of activities, questions and suggestions for possible use by facilitators. Because the film could be used with any age group, the instructional materials contain ideas which are generally appropriate, such as the caution that any group must consider rules of confidentiality while discussing conflict resolution. There are also some ideas for audiences of different age levels; for example, young children might be asked to retell the story before proceeding into discussion.

      I would highly recommend When the Dust Settles. I found it so skilfully done that it warrants comparison with Neighbours. It works as a story and as a flexible support tool for conflict resolution seminars.

Highly recommended.

Deborah Begoray is a Professor of Language Arts in the Faculty of Education, the University of Manitoba.

All grades / All ages.
Review by Katie Cook.

* /4

This Canadian cartoon short begins with a prairie dog who discovers some dirt in his hole, source unknown. Dirt continues to rain down on him, and, when an arrowhead drops on his toe, he sets out to retaliate. The source is a new neighbour, and prairie dog war rages until the new neighbour realizes the damage he has caused and repents. The short ends with mysterious dirt raining down on both of them.

      Done mostly in colours of sepia and brown, the cartoon is uninspiring to view. Occasional "barely there" music intrudes and lends nothing to the video. A few bird noises and some prairie dog mutterings and screams are the extent of the sound. These are a distraction, and it would have been better for this to be a silent cartoon.

      Absolutely no written information accompanies this video. It is difficult to see where this video could fit into the school system. While the moral may be to be a good neighbour and to be careful where you toss your garbage, this lesson could be imparted much more effectively with alternate sources. From a purely entertainment point of view, the video also does nothing to grab the viewer's attention. Perhaps viewers have been "spoiled" with slick graphics and sound, but, with no purpose, this video fails to engage the viewer on any other level. Even viewed several times, the product remains uninspired.

      If entertainment is the objective, the cartoon short, The Sweater, also from the National Film Board, is a much better buy.

Not recommended.

Katie Cook is a social studies teacher and a teacher-librarian at the Steinbach Regional Secondary School in Steinbach, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364