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World Wildlife Fund Canada, 1990. VHS cassette, 30:00 min., $79.00
Distributed by Coronet Film & Video

Grades 10 and up/Ages 15 and up
Reviewed by Fred Leicester.

Volume 19 Number 1
1991 January

As a genre, high-quality nature travelogues have become common place. It is no longer possible to hold audience attention simply by pointing a camera at a landscape, even one con­taining wildlife, while a voice-over states that this is a beautiful landscape. The audience must become involved, and there are various ways of achieving this. One way has the intrepid camera­man/woman travelling down tumultu­ous boulder-strewn rivers to dense jungle in which savage beasts are encountered at every turn. This is the adventure approach. Another way is to capture the audience with the artistic beauty of the filmmaking: the dew-bedecked cobweb sparkling in the sun's first dawn rays. Yet another way is to beguile the audience with scenes from nature rarely seen.

How then has this thirty-minute film been made interesting when the subject matter is a hundred-day hike from Yellowknife to Coppermine by three men and two women across a drab and largely featureless terrain? The answer is that it hasn't. There are no grand landscapes, there is no real feeling of adventure, it is not artistically outstand­ing, nor are there any details of the living things that do abound in the Arctic spring and summer.

The narrator tells us many times of the dangers and difficulties encountered by the group, yet the visual images belie this. The film shows the group walking in rough, but not difficult, terrain in benign weather conditions. Air support seems to be readily at hand. The worst that seems to have befallen the group were cases of dehydration and sunburn (both preventable). In short, this production is only slightly superior to the home movie you or I would make if we were recording a weekend hike with a group of friends.

Those expecting to "delight in the wildlife and flowers, the solitude and beauty of this untouched wilderness" may be disappointed.

Fred Leicester, Golden School District, Golden, B.C.
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