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Produced and directed by Alan C. Clapp
Deluxe Productions, Canada, 1991. VHS cassette, 48:00 min., $125.00, includes study guide. Distributed by T.H.A. Media Distributors Ltd., 1100 Homer Street Vancouver, B.C. V6B 2X6.

Subject Headings:
Reid, William, 1920- Spirit of Haida Gwaii.
Haida sculpture.
Haida Indians-Religion and mythology.

Grades 7 and up / Ages 12 and up

Reviewed by C.L. Ross

Volume 20 Number 6
1992 November

This is a magnificent film about the sculpture that Canadian artist Bill Reid was commissioned to do for the Canadian embassy in Washington, D.C. We are treated to an in-depth look at the piece from conception to finished product, and it is a journey worth anyone's time to make.

The film begins with a recounting of the legend of the creation of the Queen Charlotte Islands, home of the artist, Bill Reid. This is followed by a short biographical sketch of Reid's life and career, interspersed with a history and background of the Haida nation. In order to truly appreciate the piece of sculpture that one sees being born in the film, one must have some idea of the Haida culture and way of life. I think the film gives us an admirable glimpse of the aura and atmosphere of the Haida nation.

It was enough at least to enhance our understanding and enjoyment of Bill Reid's breath-taking, larger-than-life sculpture, depicting the legends and culture of the Haida people. One is also given a fairly in-depth lesson in how to cast a piece of art in bronze, using the lost wax casting method. It is exciting to see this work, years in the making, taking shape, being polished and put into place at the Canadian embassy.

The quality of the video is good. Considering how difficult it must have been to take some of the shots, the camera operator did a superb job of showing us how a sculpture of this size is put together. The intermittent jazz music throughout the film was an annoying distraction. It seemed to me to be inappropriate, considering the topic and theme of the film.

I also would have liked the filmmakers to have given us a longer look at the finished product. It was annoying to see all the details of the construction of the piece and then not to be able to enjoy the finished work.

Aside from that, I have nothing but praise for the film and the producers, who worked so hard to capture the spirit of Bill Reid's work as well as the motivation of the man. Highly recommended.

C.L. Ross is a librarian with the Okanagan Regional Library in Kelowna, British Columbia
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