Posts Tagged ‘farleymowat’

NFB Film – Finding Farley

Last night we watched a delightful NFB film called Finding Farley. It follows as couple, their toddler, and dog as they wend their way across the country, mostly by canoe, visiting sites featured in the books of Farley Mowat. Besides the interesting premise, and many segments with Mowat himself, the film stands up on the strength of the quality of the filming. Besides the plotline, the movie is gorgeous, with amazing shots of the landscape and of the flora and fauna. The filmmakers are obviously well experienced in nature photography and manage to get impressive shots of horned owls, whales, wolves, bugs, caribou, etc.

Stream it for free here: Finding Farley

More books by Farley Mowat….

From November 27, 2008:

“Read The Snow Walker and My Discovery of America by F. Mowat. The former was read while on the shores of Lake Superior in Pukaskwa National Park, with _____. Snow Walker is a compilation of stories by Mowat pulled from events he witnessed while up north, or else (mostly) traditional tales from the north. Besides being an interesting (oral) Canadian history, it featured Mowat’s characteristic witty style and deep characters. My Discovery of America is a rather different book, inspired by Mowat’s failed attempt to cross the American border in the 1980s. This book is to some extent a comment on the stupidity of American immigration and customs policy and is also rather prescient, predating by more than 15 years 9/11 and the Department of Homeland Security. However, the book is mostly enjoyable because of its comedic value and also perhaps its autobiographical value as Mowat scours his past for reasons the Americans would deny him entry. Among the possible incidents that may have caused his denial was shooting at low-flying American military aircraft that were conducting practice runs over Canadian airspace…Besides this, Mowat’s general bull-headedness and refusal to not make a big stink until he got a full apology and removal from the “lookout book” lead to much hilarity. And, the press at the time latched on to Mowat’s nose-thumbing insistance that president Reagan fly to Port Hope to apologize personally, and then fly him in Air Force One to the engagement in California where he was originally heading…The story was widely publicised in the States resulting in a flood of letters of support from American citizans who had heard of his plight at the hands of their own border police, and this actually served to restore or increase Mowat’s faith in the average American…

On Pierre Burton, and he in comparison with Mowat

From August 22, 2008:

“While here I have read a number of stories by Pierre Burton, stories from Canada’s history–some of them interesting (Dr. Grenfell, The Overlanders, etc.) and others inane/irrelevant (ex. The Brother XII). Burton is an excellent storyteller, but perhaps a shallow one. He does not bring out the underlying significance and emotion that a writer does. Burton is a storyteller, not a “writer” perhaps. By contrast, I read another book by Farley Mowat, And No Birds Sang, which is the story of his war years. With Mowat you get drawn into the narrative, its ups and downs. Unlike Burton, Mowat is not just relating a story (though Burton does it very well), he is crafting a tale with great skill.

Some other thoughts on And No Birds Sang: I was surprised that even Farley Mowat, who now seems so opposed to war and destruction, was a youth like other youths, keen to rush off to war and prove himself by defending king and country. I suppose I had similar feelings at that age, of wanting to prove myself, of being desperate for some real hardship so that I might overcome it. Fortunately for me, there was no world war occurring during that time….”

Sibir by Farley Mowat

From April 19, 2008:

“Just finished Sibir by Farley Mowat, It is a good book and makes me want to go to Siberia. The book chronicles Mowat’s travels to the area first in 1966 with Claire (his wife) and then again in ’69 with a photographer friend John de Vissiers. *(I wonder if it is possible to find photos from the trip?)

They travel to Lake Baikal, Irkutsk, Yakutsk a place on the arctic ocean called Thersky, etc. The most frustrating to me is that it is potentially (almost certainly) outdated, the story being 40 years old and during the Soviet era. So, on top of the normal extra-cultural and geographic curiosity (what is it like over there?) there is the added the temporal curiosity (what is it like now?/ How has it changed?).

Mowat paints a picture of Siberia that is full of hearty, loving people in touch with the land and their futures(the native peoples or “small peoples” anyways) and of Russians who have wandered Northwards and Eastwards and fallen in love with a challenging and rewarding life. He also paints a positive image of Soviet government types, party members that is. Everyone is working with nature to build sustainable human settlements. This includes conservation related to lake Baikal, fish stocks off the east coast, study and use of permafrost, advanced animal breeding techniques (reindeer), food self-sufficiency to limit transit-intensive imports, encouraging traditional knowledge and ways of life, etc. I am incredibly, curious about what happened in the next 20 years of Soviet era and then the 20 years since. A friend of mine who was in Russia suggested that Siberia may not have been hugely effected by the fall of the Soviets because it is so isolated. But i am skeptical of this hypothesis because the area seemed to receive a lot of support from Moscow in subsidies and in providing a market for goods that were being produced in the north. On the other hand, the people as described by Mowat seemed to have internalized the values of the Soviets, or maybe not, in the sense that the values of Communism perhaps weren’t taught by Soviets but were there all along…

But still the question remains: How did the fall of the Soviet government affect the political consciousness/ideology of the people where Mowat visited? How did it affect their hopes and plans, and their ability to achieve them?