________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 16 . . . . April 4, 2008


The Incredible Tale of the Rain Machine.

Claude Bérubé (Writer & Director). Alain Corneau (Les Productions de la Chasse Galerie Producer). Jacques Turgeon (NFB Producer).
Montreal, PQ: National Film Board of Canada, 2007.
52 min., VHS or DVD, $99.95.
Order Number: 153E 9907 323.

Grades 10 and up / Ages 15 and up.

Review by Ann Ketcheson.

**½  /4

Rosaire Desbiens is a man with a mission: to learn about the rain machines which were supposedly used in Quebec in the 1950's and, according to some, are still in use today. Desbiens is convinced there are large companies who need the extra water and, therefore, create more abundant rainfall, despite the outcry from farmers and those in the forestry industry. Determined to research the rain machines, Desbiens conducts interviews with several men and women who were paid to use such machines. They are able to give clear descriptions of when, how and where rain machines were used. Desbiens provides diagrams and photos of the machines as well as newspaper headlines and clips from television news broadcasts of the time. He speaks with both meteorologists and government environmental officials regarding the possible effectiveness of rain machines and even visits CFB Bagotville to enquire whether or not their planes have ever been used to seed clouds and produce rain. Eventually Desbiens goes so far as to have a rain machine built, and he demonstrates it in front of 50 - 60 onlookers.

     The results? Can one say that there was some sort of corporate conspiracy which resulted not only in extra rainfall but in several man-made tragedies in the Saguenay/Lac-St-Jean region of Quebec? Is this simply an obsession on the part of Desbiens or merely an example of another urban legend? Like Desbiens' rain machine demonstration at the end of the DVD, the results are inconclusive, and viewers are left to discuss the possibilities and make up their own minds.

     The DVD is in French with English subtitles. It is an interesting glimpse of one rather quirky aspect of Quebecois history and culture, particularly in the Saguenay/Lac-St-Jean area of the province.


Ann Ketcheson is a retired teacher-librarian and teacher of high school English and French. She lives in Ottawa, ON, where she has turned her love of travel into a new career as a travel consultant.

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