________________ CM . . . . Volume XI Number 4 . . . . October 15, 2004


Law and Disorder: Animated Justice.

Montreal, PQ: National Film Board of Canada, 2003.
15 min., 57 sec., VHS, $99.95.
Order Number: C0103 080.

Subject Headings:
Civil law - Canada - Drama.
Civil rights - Drama.
Animated films.

Grades 11 and up / Ages 16 and up.

Review by Joanne Peters.

**½ /4


How does the law affect us in our daily lives? How do we balance the freedoms, rights and responsibilities of the individual against those of a group or society?


These are the issues explored in the five animated short films collected in Law and Disorder: Animated Justice. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and the many well-publicized court challenges which have resulted from it, have made many of us much more aware of citizens' rights, and of just how difficult it is to define the concept of freedom. However, law is more than abstractions - practical aspects of civil law are addressed in this video compilation.

     "Understanding the Law: The Coat" looks at advertising standards and the degree to which a newspaper ad constitutes a contract. The shocked consumer who finds a worm in a canned drink shows the need for protection against a manufacturer's negligence in "Understanding the Law: The Worm." "Point of Order" is the story of a father and son who confront workplace safety concerns, a school dress code, and indeed, the community at large because, as adherents of the ancient Bastroonk faith, they wear a set of sacred horns as a demonstration of their faith. This six-minute film is the strongest of the collection and is unusual in tackling the difficult of complex issue of religious practice - and tolerance of it - with both humour and sensitivity. Less successful in conveying its point is "Yo," the wordless story of two yo-yo players for whom a demonstration of skill progresses from friendly competition to bullying and violence. The collection ends with the story of "Giordano," a scientist from the Middle Ages who is burned at the stake for expressing as scientific fact, ideas which conflict with the beliefs of his time. Both church and state condemn him to his fiery fate, a reminder that the freedoms of expression which we take for granted in the twenty-first century have taken a very long time to evolve and remain in a state of continued development. Giordano's story has obvious similarities to those of Galileo and provides an interesting fictional counterpoint.

     None of these short films exceeds six minutes in length; they are intended as lesson starters, and NFB's website provides an accompanying set of lesson guides for use in both Canadian and American classrooms. Anyone planning to use this collection really needs to view the study guides first. Without them, I think that it would be challenging for teachers to connect the legal issues explored in the films with practical learning activities. Because of the abstraction underlying some of the concepts explored, Law and Disorder: Animated Justice would work best with older students in high school law classes. Preview the compilation before deciding whether or not it will work with teachers and students in your high school.

Recommended with Reservations.

Joanne Peters is a 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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