Identity Crisis in Canadian Film Essay

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Identity Crisis in Canadian Film Much has been written about the ways in which Canada's state as a nation is, as Peter Harcourt writes, "described" and hence, "imagined" (Harcourt, "The Canadian Nation -- An Unfinished Text", 6) through the cultural products that it produces. Harcourt's terms are justifiably elusive. The familiar concept of "Canadian culture", and hence Canadian cinema, within critical terminology is essentially based on the principle that the ideology of a national identity, supposedly limited by such tangible parameters as lines on a map, emerges from a common geographical and mythological experience among its people. The concept that cultural products produced in Canada will be somehow innately "Canadian" in form…show more content…
Suffice it to say that art and national identity are assumed to be interrelated in critical practice, and the principles by which this is normally assessed are at times troubling. Many of the problems inherent in criticism that locates the Canadian "psyche" in Canadian cinema have to do with the large scope of many investigations of the English Canadian cinema. Our criticism of "national cinema" or, more generally, cultural production is usually sandwiched between two dominant, yet opposing, approaches to text: Marshall McLuhan's concept where the "medium is the message" on the one hand, and Margaret Atwood's thematic criticism, in her book Survival, on the other. Although both approaches are valid, they require vast investigations of Canadian cultural production in order to ascertain supposed commonalities. These "distinctions" or shared traits among Canadian cultural products are presumed to be ties that bind us culturally as a nation. By being broad in our investigations, however, we are merely reduced to reiterating plot summaries and making generalizations about films as they relate to history vis a vis an already established critical rhetoric. The tendency is often not to analyse individual films extensively,
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