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Un pays sans bons sens!

(Wake up, mes bons amis!)

Year: 1970
Language: English and French
Format: 16mm Black & White
Runtime: 117 min
Director: Pierre Perrault
Producer: Tom Daly, Guy Coté, Paul Larose
Cinematographer: Michel Brault, Bernard Gosselin
Editor: Yves Leduc
Sound: Roger Lamoureux, Serge Beauchemin
Cast: Maurice Chaillot, Didier Dufour
Production Company: National Film Board of Canada

Structured in three parts (L’Appartenance B l’album, Le Refus de l’album and Le Retour B l’album), this essay explores French Canadians’ images of themselves as a people, as well as the nature of nationalism and patriotism. Less a celebration of a culture than an investigation into a problem, Un pays sans bons sens! was Pierre Perrault’s wake-up call to Quebecers that their only future was in a free country called Quebec. Using Didier Dufour and Maurice Chaillot as interviewers/guides, Perrault presents scenes in Quebec, Western Canada, England and France in an attempt to gather data about Québécois culture.

Extremely rich and complex in its imagery and editing structure, this film is far from the observational direct cinema so often associated with Perrault. Here he clearly embraces the notion of "ethnic classes," so dominant in the nationalist ideology of the time, to give concrete meaning to the "family album" image of Quebecers living in harmony with themselves. However, as a result, he ignores as unproblematic the impact of technology and the differences between social classes, and his attitude towards the Natives of the province seems condescending. In communicating its vision of an old-fashioned nationalism that wants to return to traditional values, the film ultimately implies that, both geographically and culturally, Canada is indeed "a ridiculous kind of country" – the literal translation of the French title.