________________ CM . . . . Volume XI Number 18 . . . .May 13, 2005


Mabel's Saga.

JoDee Samuelson (Director). Kent Martin & JoDee Samuelson (Producers).
Montreal, PQ: National Film Board of Canada, 2004.
15 min., 03 sec., VHS, $99.95.
Order Number: C0004 046.

Subject Headings:
Animated films.

Grades 10 and up / Ages 15 and up.

Review by Joan Marshall.

*** /4



This charming animated video follows Mabel as she moves through middle age. As she falls asleep reading a Viking Saga, we see her experiencing hot flashes. She pulls out unwanted chin hairs, is overwhelmed at work, and consults her doctor. While her children eat a dinner that she has no doubt prepared, Mabel slaves away at the dishes, watching a mother bird encourage the nestlings to leave the nest. Mabel's mother has a heart attack, and Mabel takes on the elder care role, finally having her mother come home to live with her. She still suffers from hot flashes and is wondering what medication to take (Rx or herbal?) and how on earth she will ever lose weight. Several years later, we see Mabel's kids leaving home, and she is finally free to holiday, play the guitar, reminisce over old photos and visit her mother's grave. She throws out all the old junk that she relied on to get through menopause and triumphantly places the Viking helmet on her head.

     Mabel's Saga video is wordless, but there are many amusing sounds indicating emotion, and the background music is soothing and classical. Mabel's purple hair, sagging body, reading glasses and hot feet clearly identify her as a menopausal woman and draw the viewer into her ordinary world. Mabel, however, sees herself as fearless as the Viking in the book she is reading as the video opens. And, indeed, women in this period of their lives need all the strength they can muster to cope with the universal problems that Mabel faces.

     This video would be excellent in a Family Studies course in which high school students study the aging process. Mabel throws off her clothes, as menopausal women do, and students have to be mature enough to see the humour in these scenes. In a humorous way and in a very short time frame (15 minutes), most of the problems of middle age, whether they be health or family related, are highlighted. A useful bilingual guide to the topic is printed on the inside of the cover. Many fruitful discussions will probably arise from Mabel's Saga.


Joan Marshall is a teacher-librarian at Fort Richmond Collegiate in Winnipeg, MB.

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

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