________________ CM . . . . Volume VII Number 11 . . . . February 2, 2001

At the Heart of the 20th Century Series.

Daniel Frenette (Director). Pierre Lapointe (Producer).
Montreal, PQ: National Film Board of Canada, 1999.
Grades 7 and up /Ages 12 and up.
Review by Gail Hamilton.


Lost Dreams.

5 min., 51 sec., VHS, $29.95.
Order Number: B9199 034.

Subject Headings:
General Strike, Winnipeg, Man., 1919.
Labour movement-Canada.
Fontier and pioneer life-Manitoba.

** /4


Death Rained Down From the Sky.

6 min., VHS, $29.95.
Order Number: B9199 035.

Subject Headings:
World War, 1939-1945-Personal narratives, Canadian.
Dieppe Raid, 1942.

**** /4


Linked by a Wavelength.

5 min., 5 sec., VHS, $29.95.
Order Number: B9199 033.

Subject Headings:
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation-History.
Radio engineers-Canada.
Radio broadcasting-Canada-History

*** /4

At the Heart of the 20th Century is a series of short black-and-white videos which range from five to six minutes in length and focus on major events in Canadian history. Each video features a fictional character who serves as a background narrator and offers his/her personal reflections on the events that shaped this country's past. Both archival stills and film images are used to lend authenticity to the stories.

      Pre-viewing and post-viewing questions and activities, designed to stimulate discussion and to serve as starting points for further study, are provided on the inside of the video case. All of the videos are closed captioned, requiring a decoder, and are also available in French.

Lost Dreams

Lost Dreams is narrated by a young Winnipeg woman of Ukrainian descent whose father gave up his hopes of ever owning his own farm. Her father, who fled Austria in the early 1900s with many other Ukrainians, came to Canada for a better life, only to find that his people were badly treated and mistrusted by their English-speaking employers. The video focuses on the trials and tribulations of these immigrant workers, victims both of circumstance and discrimination, who worked for half wages and lost their jobs once the first World War ended and the factories shut down. In 1919, the workers formed a union to fight for better wages and working conditions. However, even though the unions were successful, many Ukrainians, like the narrator's father, resorted to Anglicizing their names in order to secure better paying jobs.


Death Rained Down from the Sky

In Death Rained Down from the Sky, a World War II veteran speaks to a friend who is off-camera. The man reminisces about his war experiences, from the time he enlisted in the army to his capture by the enemy. Feeling useless after spending three years in a training camp in England, he volunteered for a dangerous mission in France. It was the first and last time he saw action, but the horror of seeing several of his comrades killed remains with him always. It is not until the final scene that viewers learn that the friend to whom the veteran has been speaking is his German captor, Hans. With poignant footage of families living in shelters during the bombing of London, this moving video puts a human face on war.

Highly Recommended.

Linked by a Wavelength

Linked by a Wavelength is narrated by Thomas Lyndsay, a young radio engineer. The video chronicles the development of long-distance communication, from the telegraph to the birth of radio and the CBC, and discusses the impact that the new communication technologies had on people's lives. An SOS from the sinking Titanic in 1912 demonstrated the importance of the wireless telegraph, for many lives were saved as a result of the call for help. When people discovered how to broadcast voices and music, the radio gained popularity. When radios were installed in CN railway cars, people wanted to take the train. The CN telegraph network later served as the basis for the CBC, and listening to the radio became a social event as entire families gathered by their radios (or their neighbours' radios) to enjoy music, stories and newscasts. People who were illiterate could keep informed by listening to the news on the radio. Over time, radio shows offered more variety to suit the different tastes of their audiences. Then came television with its ability to transmit pictures as well as sound.

Highly Recommended.

Gail Hamilton is a teacher-librarian at Bird's Hill School in East St. Paul, MB.

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

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Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364