After a young Canadian Aboriginal girl is murdered in 1971, it takes 20 years of inaction and prejudice before the police finally find the real killers. Meanwhile the killers have to live with their own guilt and fear of being caught.
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Michael Beach Nichols,
Christopher K. Walker
The true story of Helen Betty Osborne, a 19 year old Indian girl who was brutually murdered and slain on November 12, 1971 in The Pas, Manitoba, Canada and nearly taking 20 years for the police to find the four men who murdered her. Written by
This is a very well done movie with an great job of acting by the lead characters and the setting and cinematography were absolutely dynamite.
I watched this movie when it first came out on CBC in Canada where I was born and raised.I grew up in The Pas (pronounced "the paw")....the town was about 7,000 in population, very rough and tumble place.I was 15 years old in 1971 when this horrible crime took place.Helen Betty Osborne was in my grade 10 home room class at Margret Barbor Collegiate that fall and early winter when she was murdered.She was extremely shy and was hardly noticed by the rest of us until (of course)she was found murdered.She had only been in town for the preceding few months since school started in September.
The acting in this show is for the most part very good and quite realistic to the way I remember my youth there.with some notable exceptions...some of the supporting roles that were played to show the racism were sort of over the top and a little too cliché but all in all the movie portrayed things quite well.Some scenes left me physically shaking as I watched.The winter scenes were brilliantly done and outstripped anything Hollywood has ever tried in that regard.....they put me right back there ,to the point where I could feel the frost in my nose hairs.Most of the reviews i've read praise the lead role acting of the "Lee Colgan " character and rightly so....a fine performance.But, for me,the actor that played the convicted murderer,Dwayne Johnston was brilliant.Most of us teenagers partied together many times over those growing up years ....although we all didn't "hang out" together,if there was a house party on a Friday or Saturday night many of us would wind up at the same place so there where many times I was at the same party with Dwayne Johnston...and knew him as a casual acquaintance.The job Ian Tracey did in portraying him was very good.Although they don't really look alike,the clothing and make up and general swagger was spot on!The movie ,I think, was filmed in Kenora,Ontario but definitely had the look and feel of The Pas.
Seeing "that car" and hearing the tires spinning on the icy roads...the way the characters foggy breath and car exhaust comes out into the frigid air was nothing short of brilliant cinematography....absolutely stellar.It put me right back there...I can't overstate that fact!
All that being said , I would like to try (probably very clumsily)to give a little insight into the issue of racism and how this murder affected the town and those of us who lived there at the time.There was definitely racism but it was complicated and included paradoxes's like;if an Indian guy or girl lived in town as opposed to out of town on one of the three or four "Indian Reserves" that were just across the North Saskatchewan River then they most likely hung out with the white kids too.some of the white kids in town had native girl or boyfriends on "the reserve".There were quite a few mixed race families that lived in town and as I recall some of these mixed race kids hung out in the same group as Dwayne Johnstone did.
My feeling is the movie (I also read the original book)oversimplified that whole issue and made it seem as though there was a clear line of separation between the races and that's not the way it was.It was much,much more complicated than that but I am doing a poor job of explaining just what it was like....the "whole town" did not know who the killer/s were....though a number of leading people did as the movie shows.Many of us teenagers also heard the strongly believed rum ours and didn't doubt them (I'm talking here about the first year or so after the murder).
I'm not trying to absolve anyone of the collective guilt of "knowing and not saying anything" but.....I'm not really sure what I'm trying to say.....I definitely highly recommend this show but caution the viewer to take with a grain of salt , the idea that this was some sort of "Stephen Kingesque" type of town where everybody knew and creepily said nothing so as to protect these "home town white boy killers"........
anyhow .....go and rent the movie.
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