I am a Canadian. I have a conspicuous “cz” in my surname, but then again, what is a Canadian, if not an immigrant or child of immigrants…?
If you turn on the television any day of the year you’re deluged in the culture of our neighbours to the south. “Canadian culture” does exist, in fact it’s quite strong in some quarters, but on July 4th, one can’t help being a bit envious, feeling that ours is still so new, so young, given the proud displays of American heritage on so many channels.
I’m going back and forth between Turner Classic Movies & AMC. TCM are showing Yankee Doodle Dandy, a film I’ve seen a million times while AMC have Independence Day. I’m an admirer of Cagney. I’m just at the moment when George (still a boy, so not yet played by Cagney) gets his big spanking. A moment ago we came to the moment when Will Smith shoots down his alien, then smokes his cigar. Independence Day is a nationalistic sci-fi flick that works well anytime, but especially today. Will Smith’s pride –who can forget his “who de man” bluster right up to his punch in the “face” of the alien— is the best of the American spirit, not so different from the ego display that got George his spanking (after having lost his family a big gig by mouthing off to a possible impresario).
I know there are egomaniacs in Canada, but will anyone ever put that into a movie?
This afternoon TCM showed 1776, a filmed version of the musical produced in the decade before their bicentennial. Wow what a serious piece of work. I admire its ambitions, its willingness to make serious matters the subject for a musical.
We have Louis Riel, which is an opera rather than a musical. The other day a friend mentioned Billy Bishop Goes to War. But I wonder what a Canadian take on any of those American examples might look and sound like.
A Canadian Yankee Doodle Dandy? Absurd as that may sound, I can imagine a musical celebrating a Canadian musical icon. Glenn Gould? Joni Mitchell? David Foster? Or if you have a better candidate, go ahead: dramatize their life, studded with a few well-known musical moments and you have something with possibilities.
A Canadian Independence Day? That’s as odd as the previous suggestion, but why not after all. It wouldn’t be a tale of saucers demolishing iconic buildings, annihilating cities, or humbling our air power. Our confederation was a matter of conversation—something more like 1776 actually—and without any war of independence.
Recalling how new it all feels here, north of the 49th parallel, and smaller to boot, I happily devour whatever comes along. It’s Fringe time in Toronto, when for writers, composers, producers, actors and of course also the audience, hope springs not just eternal but immanent. Perhaps now is the time for the creation that not only captures the national imagination but becomes a representative for our country.