Thirteen women who were schoolmates send to a swami for their horoscopes. Little do they realize that Ursula, a half-breed Asian, is using her hypnotic powers over the swami and them to ... See full summary »
After the death of his mother, teenage Danny visits his father Matt Malloy on a lonesome farm in Australia, where he lives with a girlfriend and her daughter Stevie. The farm has been going... See full summary »
A film of more importance historically than artistically
This is a film that is more likely to be watched by Canadians interested in the development of the Canadian film industry (and in particular that of Quebec) than by movie fans from other countries. It would probably not be easy to find an English language copy of this film as a home video today. Most viewers regarded it as a pleasant little potboiler - fairly competently made but of no great importance. Only to Canadians, especially those from Quebec, would this assessment seem inadequate. Canadians have always been very concerned about protecting their cultural heritage. They share a 4,000 km. land frontier with the U.S.A., which has a population almost ten times larger and cultural values that are propagated very vigorously. Most TV programs and movies seen in Canada originate from the U.S.A. and many Canadians fear this will lead to U.S. cultural values gradually supplanting those indigenous to Canada. This fear may well be misplaced; most countries with their own cinematographic industry would admit that, despite competition from Hollywood, it is stronger today than it was 50 years ago. Financing for many new movies is generated through international consortia, equally ready to support appropriate projects regardless of their geographical location.
There is a trend towards the development of common cultural values throughout much of the world, but this is primarily a consequence of increasing population mobility which is gradually making ordinary citizens more conscious of their international heritage. This trend is inevitable, but can seem very threatening where there are linguistic differences and where scientific development and trade considerations lead to intense pressures on minority language groups. Native French speaking North Americans are now a small minority everywhere but in Quebec where they show immense concern to protect their French speaking cultural heritage. Until recently the Quebec film industry was quite parochial and paid little attention to the international distribution of its products. This changed suddenly with the unexpected success of Valerie (1969) which led to thoughts about the Quebec movie industry producing films for a world audience to support both the culture and the economy of the Province. The film L'Initiation, also set in Montreal, was planned and produced immediately after Valerie. In the hope that it would be extensively shown in Europe a French actor (Jacques Riberolles) was brought in to play the leading man and, as in Valerie, the traditional Quebec patois was not used. It was released with all the cast speaking pure European French, and a dubbed version of the film for the English speaking world. It would probably have taken an earth shattering film to meet the expectations, and this film proved to be an international flop - it did not even become readily available on videotape in most non-French speaking areas. This forced the Quebec film industry to scale down their expectations and to recognise the inherent limitations the relatively small French speaking population of North America impose upon it. Many very noteworthy Quebec films continue to be produced, but the expectations that existed when L'Initiation was shot have largely been abandoned. It follows from this that the film was of more importance for its role in shaping the Quebec film industry to the form it has today, than for its role as a work of art.
The film features a pleasant and quite well acted romance between a young University student in Montreal and a visiting tutor from France who is a well known author. Victoire enters into a liaison with Gervais despite knowing that he is married, and learns some important lessons about life from him before he returns to France. (This reverses the more common theme of young male teenagers being helped to reach maturity through the affection of more experienced girlfriends which can be found in such films as "My Tutor" or "Y Tu Mama Tambien". Unfortunately for my sex I have to admit that in "L'Initiation", unlike the other two films listed above, these lessons were not all deliberately and carefully taught by someone whose sole objective was to help their partner reach maturity.)
Although the acting in this film was competent, the dubbing of the English speaking version was only very marginally adequate, and we are left with a quite well made film that was very successful in Quebec but had little impact in Europe or English speaking North America. After I first saw L'Initiation, I enjoyed it enough to make a videotape copy from a television showing. This sat in a drawer totally forgotten for quarter of a century until a recent visit to Montreal brought it to mind. I have now converted the videotape to an advertisement free VCD and am happy to have this in my film collection; but had I not still had this videotape I would have been unlikely to undertake a long search for a replacement. Had DVD's existed when L'Initiation was released, it would probably have had a modest success in a bi-lingual version with alternative soundtracks. I would still like to have a copy in this form, but I doubt whether the cost of re-working it would be justified today.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?