Who Has Seen the Wind (1977)
The coming-of-age of adolescent Brian O'Connal in small town Depression-era Saskatchewan is told. The son of the local pharmacist Gerald O'Connal, Brian is in many ways a typical boy, who dislikes school if only because of his run-ins with the nervous schoolteacher, Miss MacDonald, and who tries to catch gophers with his friends, Artie and Forbsie. His best friend and protector is slightly older Jonathan Ben, better known as The Young Ben (as his father is referred to as The Ben), who is highly regarded as a problem by those in town who see themselves as the moral authority if only because of The Young Ben's association to The Ben, the town still keeper and drunk. Brian's life takes a turn when his parents have to leave town temporarily, while Brian stays on his Uncle Sean's farm. That stint leads to a series of events which make Brian see life around him through slightly older and wiser eyes.
- W. O. Mitchells classic novel of life and death in a dust-bowl prairie town in the Great Depression of the 1930s is filmed with remarkable breadth, intimacy and tenderness.
In the kernel of the story, young Brian OConnell comes to terms with life and death. He does this within the gradually expanding universe of his family, Mom and Dad, Grandma and Uncle Sean, his school, town and the prairie. Through the eyes of 10-year old Brian we come face to face with the inequities of his world. The film gathers impressive power as it contrasts the wild and natural forces of the prairie against the self-righteous, cruelly vindictive, but ultimately civilized forces of his town.
The death of his father is the terrible loss from which he learns most. Without bitterness or cynicism, in this flawlessly acted film, Brian reminds us all that no matter how painful some experiences may be, one may emerge from them with a deeper understanding of the world in which we live.