________________ CM . . . . Volume VII Number 3 . . . . October 6, 2000

cover Just Watch Me: Trudeau and the '70s Generation.

Catherine Annau (Director). Gerry Flahive & Yves Bisallon (Producers).
Montreal, PQ: National Film Board of Canada, 1999.
77 min. VHS, $39.95.
Order Number: C9199 104.

Subject Headings:
Canada-Politics and government-1968-1979.
Canada-Politics and government-1980-1984;.

Grades 11 and up / Ages 16 and up.

Review by Joanne Peters.

**.5 /4

It begins in a corridor of the Parliament Buildings, Ottawa. A huge portrait of a man with a rose in his lapel, on his face, a bemused and urbane half-smile. Pierre Elliott Trudeau was Canada's Prime Minister from 1968-79, 1980-84, and he had a dream for the country's future: "The future was bilingualism." Fluently and expressively bilingual, Trudeau aggressively pursued a policy of redefining the relationship between Canada's two founding European nations. He dreamed of uniting the country through federal promotion of bilingualism and biculturalism. The eight Canadians profiled in this documentary grew up during the Trudeau era; some had parents who placed them in immersion programs, some went to "summer institutes" in another part of Canada to live and experience the other official language, and all have a strong sense of Canadian identity, culture, and nationalism. Interestingly, with the exception of a Coast Salish Native Canadian, all are either English or French Canadian background - no "ethnic" Canadians tell their stories. All are seemingly middle-class, well educated, hip, attractive young professionals with interesting jobs. We learn about their families, their schooling, their travels, their love lives, their kids, and yes, their politics. At times, the title, Just Watch Me seems too appropriate: there's more than bit of navel-gazing here. It's certainly not about Trudeau, but about these eight cool thirty-something Canadians. However, things get serious during the discussion of the 1995 Referendum vote; for all Canadians, the event was a turning point and, for this group, a watershed experience. This nail-biter of a vote led all of them to question their belief in the ideology of their youth, and some to consider bilingualism "a failed social experiment." Just Watch Me has its strengths: the cool, MTV-inspired cinematography accompanied by a 70's/80's pop music sound track make the 77 minute-long video, easy viewing. The 1995 Referendum sequence reminds all generations Canadians of just how close we came to losing the country as we know it. But, "a love story that takes us into the heart of an era and the hearts of the people who will shape Canada's future" - as was said in the '90's, "NOT!" Just Watch Me provides some useful background material for Canadian history courses, and it might be interesting viewing for students in French Immersion programs, if nothing else, to give them a sense of why they are learning the other official language. Preview before deciding to add it to your high school collection.

Recommended with reservations.

Joanne Peters is the teacher-librarian at Kelvin High School in Winnipeg, MB.

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

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