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Canadian Pacific/Canadian Pacific II

Year: 1974
Format: 16mm Colour
Runtime: 9 min
Director: David Rimmer
Producer: David Rimmer
Cinematographer: David Rimmer
Editor: David Rimmer
With classic precision and simplicity, David Rimmer turns a structuralist landscape study into an insightful comment on cinematic illusion, using one of his signature techniques: placement of a stationary camera in a single location over an extended period of time to record the subtle changes that occur. For Canadian Pacific – a film in two parts shot from two slightly different points of view that can be projected alone or in double-screen format – Rimmer set his camera at the window of his second-floor studio, through which he could see the sky, mountains, water and the Canadian Pacific Railway. These four elements become fields of play, where changes in one or more create an illusion of three-dimensional space.

Canadian Pacific – filmed over a period of three months – is the clearest expression of Rimmer’s interest in the nature of the frame. By placing tape on the window near the corners of the screen to signify the corners of the frame, he makes the viewer take notice of the window(frame)’s presence, while also hinting at the presence of the camera (which, in Latin, means "a room") and its lens. Adding further dimensions to the frame, and the viewer’s awareness of it, are the instances when the window pane itself becomes visible (such as when it is streaked with rain), and when the room behind the camera can be seen in the window’s reflection.

The film also continues Rimmer’s motif of exploring the dichotomy between the bond the recorded image has with the past and its forceful association with a continual sense of the here and now. Canadian Pacific, however, is more than just an investigation into temporal tension and spatial relations, or merely an exercise in depth perception; the fluid dissolves that connect the film, showing the transformations of the landscape through all weathers and seasons, are nothing short of beautiful, visual poetry.

The film’s companion piece, Canadian Pacific II, was also shot over a three-month span, but from a window two storeys higher, on the fourth floor of the building adjacent to the location used the previous year.

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