The film presents itself as a personal essay, not a history lesson. It manages to be both.
As part of the 400th anniversary celebrations of Québec, the National Battlefield Commission planned a huge re-enactment of the Battle of the plains of Abraham. This week the planned re-enactment of the battle for its anniversary was canceled because of controversy brought about by nationalist political agenda. It is a shame they were not able to see events in their historic perspective with the maturity Godbout brings here.
The film revisits the battle of the Plains of Abraham as the filmmaker, one of Quebec's best of the previous generation, goes back to one of the sacred cows of the history books. Jacques Godbout tells an anecdote in the film about his father, who died two years before filming. His dad brought up the battle as the date that defined french people in North America. Godbout felt compelled to try to understand this most mis-understood of events.
What actually happened in New France on the plains of Abraham Martin (a name that came much later by the way) ? Godbout visits England, France and the capital of Quebec with love and humor, reconstructing a portrait of the battle and analyzing its importance for all of America. He interviews descendants of the two main military players, Wolfe and Montcalm.
Though the film seems a little gimmicky at times, it manages to keep the audience engaged and amused throughout.
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