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It's 1914, the beginning of WWI. In White River, Ontario, en route to a training camp in Valcartier, Québec, with the Winnipeg section of the Canadian Army Veterinary Corps, Army Lieutenant Harry Colebourn, who has a natural rapport with animals, saves a black bear cub from being killed by a hunter, who killed the cub's mother. Not knowing what else to do with the cub, Harry brings her along to camp to act as the unit's mascot, who he names Winnie - short for Winnipeg. Most of the men in the unit bond with Winnie, but having such a mascot is against the wishes of the head of the Canadian Expeditionary Force's veterinary division, Colonel Barret. Barret is a tough but fair man, who may have more problems than Winnie in the form of the Expeditionary Force's commanding officer, General Hallholland, a dipsomaniac who uses his position in the army for his own vainglorious purposes. Winnie's stay with Harry and the unit is not always a smooth one, especially in trying to stay under Barret's... Written by
I am a judge for the Indianapolis-based Heartland Film Festival. This feature film is a Crystal Heart Award Winner and is eligible to be the Grand Prize Winner in October of 2005. The Heartland Film Festival is a non-profit that honors Truly Moving Pictures. A Truly Moving Picture " explores the human journey by artistically expressing hope and respect for the positive values of life."
The film centers around a Canadian army veterinarian, who buys a bear cub from a hunter while on a train ride east across Canada with his army comrades. They are going to a training camp, and from there they are going to Europe to fight in World War I. For a while, the bear cub becomes an army mascot. However, the bear becomes too troublesome and the order comes down to get rid of the bear. And that is where the story gets interesting.
The young army men have a boring, uneventful life as they train for war. The bear becomes one of their centers of interest. Their other center of interest is developing relationships among each other as they prepare for the then unknown-to-them horrors of war. It becomes obvious that the real purpose of training is to develop loyalty and friendship among each other so that they can rely on each other in stressful war times.
The film has wonderful art direction and costuming and you are truly placed into the early part of the 20th century.
A.A. Milne learned of this true story and this became the basis for the Winnie-the-Pooh stories.
FYI There is a Truly Moving Pictures web site where there is a listing of past Crystal Heart winners that are now either at the theater or available on video.
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