Films by Michael Ondaatje DVD Michael Ondaatje

Films by Michael Ondaatje DVD Michael Ondaatje
This first home video collection from one of Canada's most accomplished and celebrated writers features an insightful and entertaining three films released between 1970 and '72, a point in the author's career when he was already acknowledged as an emerging literary talent with the release of two collections of poetry and the 1970 publication of his acutely fragmented first novel, The Collected Works of Billy The Kid. The longest of the films, The Clinton Special: A Film About The Farm Show, similarly reflects the experimental and moment-based narrative approach of a work such as Billy, as well as the future arcs of his later literary work, and is based on the documentation of a simple and unique theatrical experience: a troupe creating a play out of material culled from two months living and talking with farmers in small town Southern Ontario and then performing inside the barns of townsfolk. Balancing a combination of play footage, interviews with actors and townsfolk and re-creations of townsfolk mannerisms, actions and dialogue by the actors outside of the play itself, specifically for/to the camera, Ondaatje grasps the profoundly positive self-discovery experience this was for both the actors and each individual townsfolk. His two short films included in the set are similarly layered, wondrous portraits of artists done good. In Sons of Captain Poetry, ostensibly a film about language challenging Canadian poet bpNichol, and his wacky volley ball playing commune, Ondaatje collaborates with cameraman/editor Bob Fresco to creatively frame the outside poet, experimenting beautifully with a moving zoom lens down rural roads at one point. And in Carry on Crime and Punishment he creates a silent era slapstick comedy, following the abduction and recovery of a dog, with accompanying piano. The key theme throughout, and what keeps them fresh, is Ondaatje's inherent acknowledgement of the role of art as pivotal personal ambition, as well as an instigator of self-awareness; but it's the simple fun he himself has making and talking about art that make the films worth the look. Plus: conversation between Ondaatje and David Young, interviews, Ondaatje bio, more. (Mongrel Media)