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Banner: From Colony to Country: A Reader's Guide to Canadian Military History


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Second World War
Art, Music and Literature

Film and Video

Long before the Second World War, filmmakers had realized the graphic visual power of their medium both for propaganda and for documentary purposes. Many of these films, which relate to aspects of the Canadian experience in the Second World War, can still be found in the holdings of Library and Archives Canada, the National Film Board of Canada, the Archives nationales du Québec and other provincial and local repositories. The films can be located through the institutions' websites and catalogues. Perhaps of more interest to today's viewer however, is the way in which recent filmmakers and videographers have interpreted the war.

In 1992, brothers Brian and Terence McKenna produced The Valour and the Horror in three parts, dealing with land operations in the early part of the Normandy campaign, the night strategic bombing campaign and the surrender of Hong Kong in 1941. The common theme of the series was that the lives of Canadian servicemen had been needlessly sacrificed. The series raised valid arguments, but these were blurred by a lack of distinction between the use of fiction and historical evidence, and could be criticized for inadequate research. Veterans and their organizations were outraged that their sufferings were seen as meaningless. A Senate committee questioned the use of public funds for the McKennas' production, and historians and veterans wrote volumes condemning the series (see below). With the support of veterans, another series was produced. No Price Too High is a six-part, five-hour production about Canadians' contributions to the war, based upon the book by the same title by Terry Copp and Richard Nielsen. The McKennas have continued to produce work that questions the accepted interpretation of wartime events.

Another development of the last decade has been the production of the Never again! series of videos by the War Amps of Canada and its Chief Executive Officer, Cliff Chadderton. These videos illustrate a variety of aspects of the war and of Canadian veterans' experiences.

The following are only some examples of the variety of recent material available.

Advance [video recording] : soldiers of the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa at D-Day. -- Produced by Karyn Standen, Paul Huppé ; written by Karen Standen ; narrated by Charles Lynch. -- Ottawa : Maclean Hunter Cable TV, 1994. -- 1 cassette, 60 min. -- Sd., col.

* Against all odds [video recording] : Canadian infantry battle for the Scheldt. -- Producer and narrator, H. Clifford Chadderton. -- Ottawa : War Amputations Canada, [1988?] -- 1 cassette, 55 min. -- Sd., col. -- (Never again!). -- Also produced in French under the title: En dépit de tout : victoire de l'infanterie canadienne à la bataille de l'Escaut

  • Battle to clear the approaches to the port of Antwerp, which resulted in more than 6 500 Canadian casualties

  • Features the Royal Winnipeg Rifles, Chadderton's own battalion

Barbed wire and mandolins [video recording]. -- Produced by Sam Grana ; directed by Nicola Zavaglia ; written by Sam Grana, Nicola Zavaglia. -- Montreal : National Film Board of Canada, 1997. -- 1 cassette, 47 min. -- Sd., col.

  • Experiences of interned Italian-Canadians

Canada remembers = Le Canada se souvient [video recording]. -- Director, Terence Macartney-Filgate ; producer, Kent Martin ; written by William Whitehead. -- [Montreal] : National Film Board of Canada, 1995. -- 3 cassettes, 157 min. -- Sd., col.

  • Three-part story of Canada in the war. Part 1: "Turning the tide, 1939 to D-day" ; Part 2: "The liberators, D-day to the Rhine" ; Part 3: "Endings and beginnings, 1945"

* Canada's Hong Kong veterans [video recording] : the compensation story. -- Producer, H. Clifford Chadderton ; director, J.G. Mills. -- Ottawa : War Amps Canada, [1993?] -- 1 cassette, 59 min. -- Sd., col. -- (Never again!). -- Also produced in French under the title: Les anciens combattants du Canada à Hong Kong : la question de l'indemnisation

D-Day [video recording] : the story of the Canadian assault troops. -- Produced, written & narrated by Cliff Chadderton. -- Ottawa : War Amps, [1998?]. -- 1 cassette, 58 min. -- Sd., col. -- (Never again!)

Forgotten warriors [video recording]. -- Director, Loretta Todd ; narrator, Gordon Tootoosis ; producers, Carol Geddes et al. -- Montreal : National Film Board of Canada, 1996. -- 1 cassette, 51 min. -- Sd., col.

  • Aboriginal contributions to Canadian defence efforts and the effect of their service on their lives and their communities

Juno Beach to Caen [video recording]. -- Produced, written & narrated by Cliff Chadderton. -- Ottawa : War Amps, [1996?] -- 1 cassette, 2 hr. -- Sd., col. -- (Never again!)

  • The achievements of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division and 2nd Armoured Brigade from the D-Day invasion to the final assault on Caen

Lost over Burma [video recording] : search for closure. -- Director, Garth Pritchard ; written by Robert Duncan ; producers, Katherine Rankin, Jerry Krepakevich. -- Narrator : Christopher Plummer. -- Montreal : National Film Board of Canada, 1997. -- 1 cassette, 47 min. -- Sd., col.

  • Search for and recovery of the bodies of six Canadian airmen who crashed into the Burmese jungle on a routine supply mission in the last days of the war

Minoru [video recording] : memory of exile. -- Producer, Bill Pettigrew ; direction, design, animation, Michael Fukushima. -- Told by Minoru Fukushima. -- [Montreal] : National Film Board of Canada, 1992. -- 1 cassette, 19 min. -- Sd., col.

  • Internment and deportation of a Japanese-Canadian family

Mourir en France [video recording]. -- Un film de Luc Cyr et Carl Leblanc. -- Montréal : Ad Hoc Films, 2000. -- 1 cassette, 53 min. -- Son., coul.

  • Dieppe, 1942

No price too high [video recording] : Canadians and the Second World War. -- Producers, Deane Judson et al. ; writers, Richard Nielsen, James Wallen. -- Narrator : Arthur Kent. -- Whitby, Ont. : McGraw-Hill Ryerson ; Norflicks Productions, 1995. -- 3 cassettes, 294 min. -- Sd., col.

  • 6 episodes of 49 min. each

  • Based on the book by the same title by Terry Copp and Richard Nielsen

  • Features Terry Copp

On wings of valour [video recording] : in defence of Bomber Command. -- Produced by Jeannie Muldoon. -- Interviewers, Peter Desbarats et al. ; narration, Brian Mattys. -- [London, Ont. : Maclean-Hunter Cable TV], 1992. -- 1 cassette, 52 min. -- Sd., col.

  • Presents reactions and opinions of Canadian Bomber Command veterans as a rebuttal to the "Death By Moonlight" episode of The Valour and the Horror series

Operation Charnwood [video recording] : the Canadian battle for Caen. -- Produced, written and narrated by Cliff Chadderton. -- Ottawa : War Amps, [1998?]. -- 1 cassette, 58 min. -- Sd., col. -- (Never again!)

* Sail or jail [video recording] : merchant seamen's claim for benefits. -- Produced, written and narrated by Cliff Chadderton. -- Ottawa : War Amps, [1999?]. -- 1 cassette, 58 min. -- Sd., col. -- (Never again!). -- Also produced in French under the title: Le bateau ou le cachot : réclamation d'indemnités des marins marchands

  • After the war, the government did not recognize merchant seamen as veterans and they were withheld many veterans' benefits until 2001

Seven brides for Uncle Sam [video recording]. -- Directed and written by Anita McGee ; producer, Kent Martin ; photography, Nigel Markham ; narrator, Agnes Walsh. -- Montreal : National Film Board of Canada, 1997. -- 1 cassette, 52 min. -- Sd., col.

  • Documents the stories of seven Newfoundland women who married American servicemen

* Take no prisoners [video recording] : the Nazi SS in Normandy. -- Produced and directed by Cliff Chadderton ; director, Jim Mills. -- Ottawa : War Amps Canada, 1995. -- 1 cassette, 59 min. -- Sd., col. -- (Never again!). -- Also produced in French under the title: Ne faites aucun prisonnier : les SS nazis en Normandie

  • Account of the execution of more than 130 Canadian soldiers by the 12th SS Panzer Division

  • Many of these soldiers were from Chadderton's own battalion, the Royal Winnipeg Rifles

  • "Some revisionists claim that the killings were in retaliation for the murder of enemy prisoners. This video reveals a different story." (excerpt from the promotional brochure for the video)

Le temps d'une guerre [video recording]. -- Réalisation, Jacques Vallée. -- Montréal : Office national du film, 1995. -- 3 vidéocassettes, 153 min. -- Son., coul.

  • Complete contents: 1. "1935-1942", 2. "1942-1944", 3. "1944-1945"

*The valour and the horror [video recording]. -- Director, Brian McKenna ; producers, Arnie Gelbart, André Lamy ; writers, Terence McKenna, Brian McKenna. -- Narrator : Terence McKenna. -- Montreal : National Film Board of Canada, 1992. -- 3 cassettes, 314 min. -- Sd., col. -- Also produced in French under the title: La bravoure et le mépris

  • Contents: "Savage Christmas : Hong Kong 1941"; "Death by moonlight : Bomber Command"; "In desperate battle : Normandy 1944"

The Veterans Charter [video recording] : a 50 years history of veterans legislation in Canada. -- Produced and written by Cliff Chadderton. -- Ottawa : War Amps, [1993?]. -- 1 cassette, 59 min. -- Sd., col. -- (Never again!)

The war at sea [video recording]. -- By Brian McKenna and Terence McKenna ; director, Brian McKenna ; producer, Arnie Gelbart. -- [Montreal] : National Film Board of Canada, 1995. -- 1 cassette, 96 min. -- Sd., col.

  • Contents: Part I: "U-boats in the St. Lawrence"; Part II: "The black pit"

A web of war [video recording]. -- Director, Brian McKenna ; writers, Terence McKenna, Brian McKenna ; producers, Arnie Gelbart et al. -- Narrator : Terence McKenna. -- Montreal : National Film Board, 1995. -- 1 cassette, 51 min. -- Sd., col.

  • Chronicles the shared military history of Canada and Poland during the war

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