________________ CM . . . . Volume V Number 4 . . . . October 16, 1998

cover The Danger Tree.

John McGreevy (Director), Janice Tufford & Marilyn A. Belec (Producers).
Montreal, PQ: National Film Board of Canada, 1997.
50 min., colour, VHS, $39.95.
Order number: C9195 200.

Subject Headings:
World War, 1914-1918-Personal narratives, Canadian.
Goodyear Family-Video recording.
Newfoundland-History-Video recording.

Grades 10 and up / Ages 15 and up.
Review by Katie Cook.

**** / 4

David Macfarlane narrates this story, from his 1991 book of the same name, about Josiah and Louisa Goodyear and their seven children, six boys and one girl. In 1907, they move from a traditional fishing life to Grand Falls, a paper town. Then the Great War occurs, and five of the six Goodyear boys join the regiment contributed by the colony of Newfoundland. Their personal story is run in tandem with the story of Newfoundland, a British colony, and its tremendous sacrifice during the Great War, its subsequent bankruptcy, and a narrow vote (51%-49%) to join the country of Canada.

      At a time when Saving Private Ryan is in theatres, the theme of many sons from the same family going off to war is a familiar one and should appeal to teens. This is a true tale, and three Goodyear boys, Ray, Stan, and Hedley, never return to their homes. Our Canadian history is clearly not the history of Newfoundland, and this video, by offering insight into an area that is not often covered in the classroom, is appealing on that score as well. The closeness of the vote bringing Newfoundland into Confederation should ring bells and provide all sorts of classroom discussion about the latest vote in Quebec to separate and the ensuing court decisions and battles.

      The filming of this video is truly inspired. The combining of black and white films from World War I with current reenactments is done seamlessly. The use of black and white stills that fade into the present scenery of Newfoundland is also masterfully done. The changes from colour to black and white, old reels to new is never intrusive or jarring. The move from memory to the present via the narration is not always as smooth. David Macfarlane has a wonderful reading voice and makes a good narrator. The fact that the story is a personal one makes the voice tones even better. The one flaw is in the voices of the "memories". When Macfarlane discusses his great-grandmother's point of view, a female voice fades in and out to make the point. This also happens with all of his other characters. What they say is interesting and pertinent, as is the vintage music that sometimes accompanies their words. The problem is in the voice quality and the sound level. These voices are sometimes difficult to distinguish, necessitating continuous volume adjustment, which may be difficult in the classroom.

      That one flaw aside, this is a wonderful video for teachers looking for an alternate view to the usual in teaching about Canada and World War I. It would also be interesting for classes researching family histories or the histories of the separate provinces of Canada. The Newfoundland referendum of 1949 also contains much material of pertinence to today's Canadian history classrooms. This video is also just plain entertaining, and the viewer comes to identify with this family and with the country of Newfoundland, both of which gave up so much.

Highly recommended.

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

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

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ISSN 1201-9364