Some films have been found miraculously even if we had lost their tracks for decades. Others have been saved in extremis, while their film originals were deteriorating. Since its creation in 2008, the organization Elephant : the memory of quebec cinema, has restored more than 230 feature films of our film heritage, thus giving a second life to several works that were threatened with extinction.
“Without the work of the Elephant, there are a lot of movies in quebec that would be difficult to find today “, argues the director of the agency, Dominique Dugas. This specialist of the cinema in quebec has succeeded, there is a year and a half, Claude Fournier and Marie-José Raymond in the direction of this project philanthropic funded by Quebecor, who is given the mission 12 years ago to restore, digitize in hd and make available the set of the film heritage of quebec.
“There’s a lot of money that is invested to produce films, but once they have completed their commercial life, it is as if we cared more. However, the québec film must continue to live. The new movies should not replace the former. They must live with them. ”
The approximately 230 feature films restored to date by Elephant cover a period of more than 60 years. There are films of all genres, from the classics made by filmmakers, but also of unknown works which have, nevertheless, their importance in the history of our cinema.
“There is something revealing in each of the films that are being restored, either in the way you speak, dress, in architecture, to see the human reports of a time. Each film shows something of our history, ” observes Dominique Dugas.
Among the more than 230 films in the repertoire of the Elephant, one finds several hidden treasures of quebec cinema. In the following 15 selected and commented on by the director of the agency, Dominique Dugas.
1. Le gros Bill (1949)
“The first fiction films made in Quebec in the 1940s are for the most part, a cinema of the soil in the defense of catholic values. One of the most successful, The big Bill, takes place on a backdrop of a romantic rivalry in which the outcome will culminate in scenes of draves particularly successful. The good priest, the good father of the family, his daughter’s object of lust, the gossips of the village, the stranger… there are all the archetypes of the genre, the traditions and customs of quebec folklore and a good dose of humor. This is a result of the success of this film that Jean Béliveau will be assigned to the nickname of Big Bill. ”
2. The enchanted village (1956)
“The first feature-length animated film produced in Quebec is the work of two brothers, Marcel and Réal Racicot, who have achieved the traditional way, without real means. Fantasy for the whole family, the story of the film tells the story of the founding of a village at the time of the colonization of the Abitibi region while a werewolf prowls. A light film, nice, and entertaining, and not without humour. If it owes its survival to the Cinémathèque québécoise, its restoration by Elephant to have presented a significant challenge given the state of degradation in which it was located. ”
3. No holiday for idols (1965)
“Then distributor of movies and owner of Télé-Métropole, which he founded in 1961, J.-A. DeSève command to the young Denis Héroux, a musical film that, like A Hard Day’s Night did with the Beatles, would value the young television stars of that time. Then co-facilitator of the Youth of today, Joël Denis plays the role of a server that stores a first disc and becomes the idol of the youth, while rubbing to criminals of high rank. We see Donald Lautrec to record in a studio Far in my campaign. A unique film of its kind ! ”
4. Initiation (1970)
“In 1969, with Valerie as detonator, on a wave of erotic films québécois initiated by the company Cinépix will hit the screens in Quebec for a few years. An unprecedented success at the box-office, which culminates with Two women in gold ) by Claude Fournier. Lot, by its scenario better developed and of a high technical quality, it retains The initiation, which marks the debut of Chantal Renaud at the cinema. She played a young student in literature who will be seduced by a French writer came to teach at Montreal, of which the novel had awakened sexuality. The restoration by Elephant of this movie from Denis Héroux has helped him to find a certain splendor of colors and images that he had not known since its release in 1970. ”
5. Stand up well after the ears to daddy (1971)
“In parallel to the wave of erotic films, the popular comedy is set in the 70’s in Quebec. Some of these comedies were counting on the comic talent of the exceptional Dominique Michel, which Stand up well after the ears to dad, his first film, in which she gives the reply to another monument of humor : Yvon Deschamps. This film resolutely nationalist recounts the adventures of a young secretary and his colleague in an insurance company. It is for this film that the song Mommy was written by its screenwriter, Gilles Richer et Marc Gélinas. Firstly, it has been interpreted in duet by Dominique Michel et Marc Gélinas before being resumed by Pauline Julien. ”
6. Red (1970)
“In the shadow of the erotic film and the popular comedy, several filmmakers from quebec (Claude Jutra, Jean Pierre Lefebvre, Michel Brault, among others) have emerged as authors of a film, singular, recognized abroad. Gilles Carle was perhaps the most famous of them all. In addition to the great movies that have it enshrined (The happy life of Leopold Z, The male, The true nature of Bernadette, The death of a lumberjack, The Plouffe family), he works less known, but equally interesting, including Red, an action film that focuses on the relations between Quebecers and First Nations through the fate of the Métis, interpreted by Daniel Pilon. A foray successful Carle in genre cinema to the american. ”
7. Gina (1975)
“The cinema of Denys Arcand is not limited to the Decline of the american empire, in Jesus of Montréal and the barbarian Invasions. Other great films that have marked his career, including his first three feature films of fiction, The cursed galette, Réjeanne Padovani , and Gina. This latest film is inspired by challenges encountered during the production of his documentary on the textile industry. It follows a team of film coming turn in the region of a documentary on the textile industry and the trials and tribulations of a stripper raped by a gang of snowmobilers. Sort of western, nordic, you can find Gina a chase scene among the most successful (and bloody) history of quebec cinema. “
8. Panic (1977)
“Political Thriller, Panic is one of the first films in Quebec to address the environmental issue head-on. On a background of a public health crisis resulting from the industrial pollution of a pharmaceutical, the film denounces the corruption between the political and economic power. The film of 1977 is not without to echo the political news of the last few years, but also at the time of a pandemic we are now experiencing. The final argument of the character portrayed by Paule Baillargeon, who will address to all the children of Quebec, is not without leaving the viewer the throat out of the film. ”
9. Sonatine (1984)
“The second film directed by Micheline Lanctôt (his first, The handyman, has also been restored by Elephant), Sonatina had won the silver Lion at the Venice film Festival in 1984, one of the most prestigious prizes awarded by a québec film in a film festival. Unfortunately, the public success has never taken to this film exceptional. Film about the malaise of two teenage girls, on the indifference of the world to despair, and Sonatine , has made us discover it for the first time a deeply moving Pascale Bussières, of which the inner strength of the game exploded already on the screen. ”
10. Happiness of the occasion (1983)
“Three versions of the film adaptation of the masterpiece of Gabrielle Roy by Claude Fournier are available on the Elephant : the French version of the cinema release of the original, a duration of 123 minutes, the full version of the director of 178 minutes, reviewed during the scanning of the film by Elephant, as well as the English version of The Tin Flute, which has been the subject of a specific film. The full version captures more of the social portrait and the density psychological of the characters present in the novel Roy in exploring more the life of the family Lacasse and the district of Saint-Henri. The production of the Happiness of the occasion was at the time in the wake of these adaptations of the novels of scope (The Plouffe family, Maria Chapdelaine, Le Matou), which was produced simultaneously for the cinema and for television. ”
11. Un zoo la nuit (1987)
“The first film of Jean-Claude Lauzon, who caused a shock in the quebec cinema. It is now a film resolutely urban that will predominate for years to come, a film less sensitive to the cold to make use of the conventions of genre cinema and the aesthetics of advertising. Simultaneously the suspense, the film addresses head-a strong theme and recurring of quebec cinema, one of the relationships father-son and reconciliation, and it caused a large accession to the quebec public. In this sense, A night zoo is one of the films that have had more impact on his day and is the most iconic. ”
12. In the belly of the dragon (1989)
“The last film made in Quebec by Yves Simoneau before embarking on a successful career in English, first in Toronto, then the United States, In the belly of the dragon is a film that is ambitious in its desire to mix two worlds, and two genres are distinct, the comedy and science fiction, to give birth to a poetic fable. There is a parallel gang of smugglers of circulars and a pharmaceutical laboratory that is of the twisted experiments in aging early guinea pigs. The duo irresistible smugglers flyers Steve (Rémy Girard), and Bozo (Michel Côté), the disturbing Dr. Lucas (Marie Tifo) and Director (Jean-Louis Millette), are only some of the characters very bédéesques created by Simoneau. The artistic direction of Normand Sarrazin and pictures of Alain Dostie have found all their beauty thanks to the restoration of the Elephant. ”
13. Requiem pour un beau sans-coeur (1992)
“Robert Morin is heavily inspired by the ultimate run of Richard Blass was shot dead by the police in 1975, to tell of the last days of Régis Savoie, the most dangerous criminal in the country. Filmed in subjective camera, the film tells the story through the eyes of different protagonists, each one telling its truth about the last moments of Savoy. Gildor Roy embodies the fugitive with great gusto, and the film of Morin is one of the best, if not the best polar ever produced in Quebec. A film that had everything to shine to a wider audience, but who has never had the chance. ”
14. The sphinx (1995)
“Just before embarking in the adventure of the Boys, which he directed and co-wrote the first three films, Louis Saia signed with The Sphinx, a first fiction feature film that tackled a genre fairly casse-gueule : the comedy-drama. Marc Messier portrays a history teacher who, madly in love with a dancer erotic, dropped his family, and his life of suburban quiet for a dive to dizzying heights in the world of the night and of the organized crime. Replicas tasty and secondary characters are colorful (Serge Thériault provides a composition eccentric of the little guy Italian), but also reflection on the life and values of a man in midlife crisis, the film also shines with an excellent art direction and work on the color that comes to serve the restoration work carried out. ”
15. Post Mortem (1999)
“The first feature film by Louis Bélanger (Gaz Bar Blues, The weeds), Post Mortem is inspired by a story unlikely to make us discover the story of Linda and Ghislain, that of a woman resurrected by a man in unclear circumstances. Gabriel Arcand is upsetting in the role of a social romantic, music-loving blues, which works in a morgue. It gives the reply to Sylvie Moreau, who burst onto the screen in his first film role. Even if the film was 20 years before its restoration, it was virtually not found. ”
Movies Elephant are available as video on demand on Illico and iTunes.