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Canadian Film Encyclopedia

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Year: 1913
Language: Silent with English intertitles
Format: 35mm Black & White
Runtime: 75 min
Director: E Sullivan, William Cavanaugh
Writer: Marguerite Marquis
Cinematographer: H Oliver, William Thompson
Cast: William Cavanaugh, Marguerite Marquis, Laura Lyman, John Carleton, Arthur Morrison, E Sullivan, William Johnson
Production Company: Canadian Bioscope Company

The first feature-length dramatic film made in Canada, Evangeline is based on Longfellow’s famous poem describing the expulsion of the Acadians to Louisiana and the undying love of Evangeline and Gabriel. A long film for 1913, at five reels (1,500 meters) it ran about 75 minutes. Evangeline enjoyed considerable commercial and critical success in both Canada and the United States.

It was the first of several films made between 1913 and 1914 by the Canadian Bioscope Company of Halifax, Nova Scotia, and was directed by American stage and film actors William H. Cavanaugh and Edward P. Sullivan. Two other American actors, Laura Lyman and John F. Carleton, were brought in to play the leads, with local actors used in supporting roles. The film’s titles were all quotations from the poem and the images were given a colour effect through tinting and toning.

Production spanned the summer of 1913 and cost $30,000 – a large budget for the time. Though Canadian Bioscope had studios in Halifax, the film was shot almost entirely in the locations described by Longfellow: Grand Pré, the Annapolis Valley, Cow Bay and Easter Passage. The considerable use of location shooting, uncommon at the time, was to develop into a characteristic of Canadian production. Longfellow’s romantic tale was then very popular; it had already been filmed in 1911 by an American company, and would be filmed again in 1919 and 1929.