________________ CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 7 . . . . October 14, 2011


La Trancée = The Trenches.

Claude Cloutier (Director). Marc Betrand (Producer). Rene Chénier (Executive Producer).
Montreal, PQ: National Film Board of Canada, 2010.
6 min., 52 sec., DVD, $99.95.
Order Number: 153C 9910 203.

Grades 10 and up / Ages 15 and up.

Review by Frank Loreto.

**** /4


There is not much new one can say about trench warfare. It was horrible, dehumanizing and a major aspect of World War I. In The Trenches and in a little under seven minutes, Claude Cloutier, manages to show how nightmarish this must have felt for the individual soldiers.

      Cloutier’s animation is fluid with each scene flowing from one to the other. The earth opens up to show the trench and the men in it. The men appear out of the ground, and, when explosions happen, the earth swallows them up. The sounds of battle and the panting of the men are very real, and the confusion and chaos is vivid.

      The film zooms into the eye of one of the soldiers who has a flashback to himself plowing on his family farm. Again, the earth is fluid around the plow, but this idyllic scene is replaced by the train and the ship that brought the boy to the war.

     The juxtaposition of the two settings screams out that this boy has no business in that trench and he will not get out alive. Near the end, viewers see a poster asking the boy, “Your chums are fighting. Why aren’t you?” He answered the call and gets to see Hell before he dies.

     The Trenches is a powerful film that can be viewed many times. Clearly, it would have applicability in a History class, but it would shine in any Art class especially in the area of animation.

     An interview with Claude Cloutier is included in the Bonus Features. He outlines his intent with the film and how rotoscopy with brush and India ink was something he had never really worked with before. He shows how the animation required layers upon layers of drawings. He is obviously pleased with the outcome.

     Cloutier explains how he created the sound for the film in the Sound Environment segment. He shows how he also layered the soundscape and managed to make the various sounds. Given the brief length of the film, The Trenches could be viewed many times, and students can appreciate and assess the time Cloutier took to blend the visual with the sound.

     The Trenches is a must for any school collection. It has applicability in so many areas. Despite the graphic treatment of a horrible subject, the film is actually very beautiful.

Highly Recommended.

Frank Loreto is a teacher-librarian at St. Thomas Aquinas Secondary School in Brampton, ON.

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

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.