Not quite his­tory in the mak­ing

JO­HANNA ScH­NEllEr WHAT i’M WATcH­iNg

Metro Canada (Calgary) - - TELEVISION -

1789. Euro­pean fur traders have reached Nootka Sound, where they’ve dis­cov­ered furry gold: sea ot­ter pelts. Run­ning the trade is a 22-year-old chief, Maquinna. But af­ter Spain de­clares it­self Maquinna’s sole trad­ing part­ner, Bri­tain is ticked.

“Maquinna knows the feud threat­ens busi­ness,” the fe­male nar­ra­tor says. “He sum­mons the Euro­peans.” Cut to a young man in a wo­ven hat, nod­ding at two other men: Spain’s cap­tain, Juan Francisco de la Bodega, and Bri­tain’s Ge­orge Van­cou­ver. “To strengthen his po­si­tion, Maquinna taught him­self Span­ish and English,” the nar­ra­tor says.

Cut to the men around a fire in a dim lodge. “Wel­come!” Maquinna says. Van­cou­ver stands, then sits. “Bien­ven­i­tos!” Mac­quinna says. De La Bodega stands, then sits. Much nod­ding and pass­ing of pelts. Cut to Maquinna stand­ing on a hill­side, grin­ning, as ships sail away to make him rich.

The se­ries’ con­tention that Canada was built on com­merce first, ide­ol­ogy sec­ond, is an in­ter­est­ing one. It’s the stuff in­tended to sex the show up that doesn’t work. The high-speed pans over com­puter ren­der­ings of Cana­dian wilder­ness, the sound­track of pound­ing drums and saw­ing strings that feels lifted from the cli­max of Taken 3.

And the recre­ations — oy. The only good thing about them is how many Cana­dian ex­tras can now add Slow-Mo Walk­ing, Squint-Eyed Point­ing, and Solemn Star­ing to their CVs.

His­tory is a hard sell, I know. But af­ter Ken Burns proved that doc­u­men­tary can cap­ti­vate us with only draw­ings and still pho­tos, all recre­ations look like out­takes from Res­cue 9-1-1. Jo­hanna Sch­neller is a me­dia con­nois­seur who ze­roes in on pop-cul­ture mo­ments. She ap­pears Mon­day through Thurs­day.

Con­trib­uted

chief Maquinna (Wren cor­biere) in canada: The Story of Us.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.