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Margaret's Museum

Margaret's Museum

Year: 1994
Language: English
Format: 35mm Colour
Runtime: 118 min
Director: Mort Ransen
Producer: Steve Clark-Hall, Christopher Zimmer, Claudio Luca, Michael Mahoney
Writer: Gerald Wexler, Sheldon Currie
Cinematographer: Vic Sarin
Editor: Rita Roy
Sound: Yvon Benoît, Luc Boudrias, Michel Descombes
Music: Milan Kymlicka
Cast: Norma Dell'Agnese, Glenn Wadman, Barry Dunn, Andrea Morris, Kenneth Welsh, Kate Nelligan, Craig Olejnik, Clive Russell, Helena Carter, Peter Boretski
Production Company: Ranfilm Productions (Vancouver), Skyline Film and Television (London, U.K.), Les Productions Télé-Action (Montreal), Glace Bay Pictures Inc.

Mort Ransen’s Margaret’s Museum is a poignant film: sometimes whimsical, sometimes solemn, but always deeply touching. The rugged landscape of Cape Breton is the backdrop for the tale of one woman’s struggle.

Margaret (Bonham Carter) loathes the coal mines that killed her father and a brother and have left her mother embittered. She wants nothing more to do with the mines and swears never to marry a miner. When Neil Currie (Russell), a charming toughguy drifts into town, she dismisses him at first. But Neil despises mining, too, and has vowed never to set foot in the shaft again. He falls in love with Margaret and woos her with Gaelic poetry and bagpipes played by moonlight.

After a passionate courtship and over her mother’s objections, Margaret marries Neil — but their happiness is short-lived. When Neil loses his job as a dishwasher, Margaret declares that she won’t bear children they can’t afford to feed. Out of desperation, and to Margaret's horror, Neil heads to the mines with Margaret’s brother Jimmie.

Margaret’s Museum is a tour de force for Bonham Carter, ably supported by equally simple, honest performances from Clive Russell and Kate Nelligan as Margaret’s mother. Vic Sarin’s cinematography is stunning, revealing unequivocally the hard life of the coal miners.

Based on Sheldon Currie's short story, Margaret’s Museum is a touching testament to one woman’s indomitable will, and the film is saturated with the rich spirit of Cape Breton. In 1995, Margaret’s Museum screened as a gala presentation at the Toronto International Film Festival and went on to win five Genies, including best actress and best supporting actor and actress.

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