Dearest Cineastes of the Celluloid Ecumenical Order that is Electric Sheep:
I launch this colonial report on the art of cinema from the northern-most tip of the Bruce Peninsula in the Dominion of Canada above the 49th Parallel. Since landing on these remote shores of the Niagara Escarpment, I have borne witness to a wide array of fine cinema in addition to the flora and fauna of this magnificent UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. I am touched by the spirits of my long-dead Brethren of the Holiest of Orders when they, with their Black Robes and Rosaries, first traversed this grand Peninsula and penned their anthropological tomes oft-referred to as The Jesuit Relations.
With one road in and one road out, it is here, where a thin layer of soil allows some of the oldest trees to rest atop rock formations chiselled by the Great Spirit during the last Ice Age, that I can peacefully experience all that cinema has to offer. Like my Jesuit brethren, my flesh and soul will be pierced – not by implements of aboriginal torture, but rather through the feats of technology that deliver a means of experiencing cinema of the highest and lowest order. Nailing my feet to the floor of my rustic cabin, I attempt, for the umpteenth time, to sit through Béla Tarr’s SÃ¡tÃ¡ntangÃ³ as white-tailed deer feed upon lichen and moss affixed to boulders; magnificent orbs dotting the terrain like fossilised pellets expunged by the prehistoric Lepus americanus.
And just as the Jesuits experienced the wrenching pain of flagellation, I too alternately experience the Heavenly heights of pure orgasmic pleasure when at dusk, with the newly re-mastered Blu-ray of North by Northwest cued up, I notice a bulky figure on hind legs dining greedily from the bird-feeding trough. Hungry blue jays (Cyanocitta cristata) fret needlessly as their convenient source of nourishment is snorted back. ‘Fear not, little ones,’ I call out, ‘The delectable treats will be replaced by morning and the noble Ursus americanus will retreat into the forest and out of the gun-sights of the locals (Hosers bobus dougus mackenzieus Canadianus) who, ensconced within the venerable Royal Canadian Legion Hall, prepare for the Great Hunt over a breakfast of rye shooters and Molson Canadian beer chasers’.
A strange brew, indeed!
Aptly, I pen my exploration of cinema from the village of Tobermory, a hamlet in Upper Canada that was named by its Irish, Scottish and British pioneers after the town in the Hebrides where Powell and Pressburger’s film classic I Know Where I’m Going was set. Coincidentally, the colonial namesake played host to the North American premiere of the aforementioned picture in the late 1940s wherein hundreds of peninsula denizens journeyed via ox-cart to celebrate the picture’s entry into our Dominion above the 49th Parallel.
When I first happened upon this Garden of Eden during one of its six weeks of summer, throngs of vacationers bloated the population of 300 to 30,000. Due to the overwhelming number of churches on the Peninsula, I had automatically assumed this was a pious community, but an overwhelming joy enveloped me when a sign hanging from a local business caught my eye as a beacon of unimagined permissiveness – ‘GS Watersports’. With salacious elation, I was most familiar with ‘GS’, an acronym for ‘golden showers’ and ‘watersports’, also in the quaint parlance of avid fetishists at such délicieux newsgroup cyber-hideaways as ‘alt.binaries.pictures.erotica.sex.fetishes.golden_showers’.
I approached a seemingly friendly and comely young lass at a souvenir and ice cream stand on the sidewalk near ‘GS’, pointed to the sign and queried her regarding the village’s spécialité de la perversion. She curtly informed me that Tobermory is – due to clear water, unfathomable depths, ancient rock formations and hundreds of shipwrecks – one of North America’s most sought-after scuba diving locales. I furthermore asked her why transport companies in the early days of the colonies used the tip of this deadly peninsula as a key port. Alas, a horrendously porcine American family who wished to order triple scoops of frozen dairy product interrupted her and she was unable to provide an answer. The question regarding so many ships going down in an obvious death trap is a mystery to me, but current residents seem grateful to the long-ago-drowned and rather boneheaded seamen, whose sacrifices provide locals a livelihood beyond hunting, trapping, fishing, fucking and boozing.
The joys of cinema and nature are ever so boundless on these far Commonwealth shores. As I write these words of welcome to this regular column for Electric Sheep, I prepare to view a magnificent new Criterion Collection DVD entitled The Golden Age of Television and look forward to providing you next month with a personal history of American anthology television and a detailed review of the above mentioned masterwork of home entertainment – small screen gems worthy of a large screen.
And this then, dear readers, is how I plan to explore the world of cinema from these colonies. Armed with Blu-ray, DVD and laserdisc players, a battery of remote controls, my trusty laptop, a strong satellite wifi signal courtesy of the Canadian Coast Guard, a roaring fire in my stove, a Baikal semi-automatic shotgun on my lap and picture-window views to remind myself of the flora and fauna when I briefly avert my eyes from the high definition screen, I hope – in this quiet paradise of our fine Dominion – to illuminate, inform, tantalise, engage and perhaps, to entertain you in the wonder of what was, over one hundred years ago, wrought by the immortal Brothers LumiÃ¨re – when moving images first passed through light, and magic appeared, as it always should, larger than life itself.