________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 18 . . . .May 12, 2006


A Day So Beautiful.

Danny Parr (Writer & Director). Joshua Dorsey (Before Film Producer). Germaine Ying Gee Wong (NFB Producer). Sally Bochner (Executive Producer).
Montreal, PQ: National Film Board of Canada, 2004.
15 min., 5 sec., VHS & DVD, $99.95.
Order Number: C9104 052.

Subject Heading:
Terminally ill-Psychology.

Grades 10 and up / Ages 15 and up.

Review by Cathy Vincent-Linderoos.

*** /4



This award-winning short film would be useful to a teacher of high school students, and, in fact, it is one of three films in the National Film Board's "Teaching Teens Package." Truth, tolerance and tenacity are specifically mentioned as the concepts to be considered in this video set.

     In A Day So Beautiful, Christopher's illness has made him noticeably different from those around him. He can, for example, no longer play an impromptu game of basketball with his friends. However, he is able to derive some pleasure and a degree of "connectedness" from the simplest of things: going to the store, talking to a pretty girl, sitting on a park bench, looking good. Just enacting his daily routines, we realize by the documentary's end, has taken an immense toll and has required great tenacity. We also realize that mentally, Christopher has successfully "kept it together" and was true to himself and his goals — despite his circumstances. His peers did not, for the most part, exhibit much tolerance or empathy.

     As this film does relate well (though not exclusively) to a study of illness and dying, Viktor E. Frankel's Man's Search for Meaning (1963) is relevant. Frankel believed that "everything can be taken from a man... but the last of the human freedoms... to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way." Christopher, the subject of the documentary, appears to be talking to himself from the vantage point of a coach sitting on the sidelines of the main event. He is not one to wallow in self-pity, and he appears to be doing everything in his power to stay "cool" to the very end of his life. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross' ground-breaking work, On Death and Dying, would be relevant to a discussion of this film, as would be the words of actor James Dean: "Dream as if you'll live forever. Live as if you'll die today."

     A Day So Beautiful video would be useful to teachers who are instructing classes of students about the production of short documentary films. Students wanting to pursue health care or social work careers or some form of volunteer work related to palliative care would derive benefit from seeing this film, as would teens who are, themselves, experiencing life with a terminal illness.


Cathy Vincent-Linderoos is a retired teacher living in London, ON.

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

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