L'Oeuvre de Pierre Perrault / Pierre Perrault Film Works - Volume 1: The Ile-aux-Coudres Trilogy 4 x DVD5
The works of Quebec filmmaker Pierre Perrault are unique in world cinema heritage. They directly capture life and the spoken word, filmed by an explorer and poet who set out to discover a corner of humankind not recorded in books.

The revival of a fishing tradition abandoned 40 years earlier, a journey to ancestral France and the stories told by schooner makers and pilots: these films give us the extraordinary characters who inhabit an island in the St. Lawrence River, Ile-aux-Coudres.

The Ile-aux-Coudres trilogy is a groundbreaking adventure in direct cinema and a unique contribution to Quebec history and culture. This 4-DVD box set comprises four films and two interviews exclusive to La collection Memoire.
The films are Pour la suite du monde (For the Ones to Come) 1963, 105 min; Le regne du jour (The Times that Are) 1967, 118 min; Les voitures d'eau (The River Schooners) 1968, 110 min; and Le beau plaisir (The Beautiful Delight) 1968, 14 min.
The interviews are entitled Pierre Perrault parle de l'Ile-aux-Coudres (Pierre Perrault Speaks of Ile-aux-Coudres) 1999, 40 min and Pierre Perrault vu par... (Pierre Perrault Seen By...) 1999, 30 min.

4 x DVD5 | NTSC 4:3 (720x480) VBR | 4.10 Gb + 4.27 Gb + 4.19 Gb + 3.94 Gb + 3% rec
Language: Francais (Dolby AC3, 2 ch)
Subtitles: English, Francais
Genre: Documentary

In the first film of the trilogy, Pour la suite du monde, Perrault convinces the island fishermen, headed by Alexis Tremblay and his son Leopold, Louis-Harvey, and Captains Abel and Joachim Harvey, to recreate a type of fishing which had not been practised on the island in 40 years: the hunt for the Beluga whale (a large all-white porpoise). With this strategy Perrault entered the territory of Robert Flaherty and Nanook of the North (1922), salvage ethnography: the act of bringing back an earlier abandoned or lost cultural tradition for the purpose of historical memory or to reacquaint the present culture with its heritage.

In the second film, Le Regne de jour, Perrault invites Alexis Tremblay, his wife Marie, their son Leopold and their daughter-in-law to visit their roots: a region in Western France, Perche, Normandy, from whence the people of their region in Quebec emigrated.

The third film in the trilogy, Les Voitures d’Eau ("River Boats"), deals with the tensions between the old/new, French/English, encapsulated in the large wooden schooners built on Ile-aux-Coudres to transport logs which are giving way to the modern steel ships operated by the English companies from Canada and abroad. The first part of the film closely follows the building of perhaps the last of these wooden schooners, and the second half finds a handful of Ile-aux-Coudres ships marooned at Trois-Rivieres for 39 days during a longshoreman’s strike. The men finally return to the tiny island. As the newly built schooner sets off at sea, another older one built 45 years ago, the Sainte-Berthe, is burned at sea.

The DVD also includes three other short film attractions collected on a fourth DVD. The most interesting is Le Beau plaisir (1968), a 15 minutes film which returns to Ile-aux-Coudres to reprise the Beluga whale hunt of Pour la suite du monde, with the major difference here being the use of color. Perhaps after watching three films on Ile-aux-Coudres in black & white it is hard to make that mental and perceptual switch to color, but somehow the color takes away from the poetic quality of Pour La Suite du Monde. Nonetheless, it is an interesting chance to see the island and its familiar people in color. And the color does bring out the beauty of the all-white Beluga whale. For this short the three principals return, with Leopold taking an active role in the hunt and the two elders, Alexis and Grand-Louis on hand to give their emotional reactions to the hunt revival.

The two other shorts are the self-explanatory 39 minute Pierre Perrault Speaks About Ile-aux-Coudres (1998), shot a few months before his death; and Pierre Perrault Seen By... (1999), a 30-minute tribute to Perrault by the people who worked with him (Serge Beauchemin, Michel Brault, Suzanne Allard, Marcel Carriere, Monique Fortier, Bernard Gosselin, and Martin Leclerc). The majority of the time is spent discussing the technical aspects and working methods of Perrault’s direct cinema from the practitioners themselves (camera work, sound, editing), at the same time painting a portrait of a man who was equal parts poet and cineaste, nationalist and naturalist, intellectual and laborer, a person whose presence and spirit lifted those around him while leaving a lasting impression on those who were fortunate enough to have known him.

Related posts:

  1. Pierre Perrault Film Works – Volume 5: The Great River / L’oeuvre de Pierre Parrault – Volume 5 : le fleuve 3 x DVD
  2. L’oeuvre de Pierre Perrault – Volume 2 : la quete d’identite collective / Pierre Perrault Film Works – Volume 2: The Quest for Collective Identity
  3. Pierre Perrault Film Works – Volume 4: Man and Nature / L’oeuvre de Pierre Perrault – Volume 4: L’homme et la nature
  4. Pierre Perrault Film Works – Volume 3: The Abitibi Cycle / L’oeuvre de Pierre Perrault – Volume 3: le cycle abitibien
  5. Pierre Clementi – cineaste, l’integrale / Pierre Clementi film-maker (1967 – 1988) DVD9 + DVD5