We do spend quite a bit of time on how Americans perceive Canada. Thanks to Nation and Destiny, a North Korean propaganda film, we have an idea what North Koreans think of Canada. And you wonder sometimes, which country has a more bizarre perception of Canada. Some Americans who might think Canada is surrounded by polar bears vs. North Koreans who think Canada might be a Slavic-speaking nation in Europe.
Nation and Destiny was commissioned in the 1990s by then dictator Kim Jong-il. The 62-part film series portrays Canada as a land of sports cars, taekwondo, and mild weather as well as a place for South Korean spies. Then again, some Americans are surprised that Canada can be hot in the summer.
We do write a lot about Canadian film here at CanadianCrossing.com. Nation and Destiny has a road trip segment in the film series with a trip from New York to Canada. So we put together a few Canadian films that show what Canada truly looks like.
One Week might have been made for such a purpose. Joshua Jackson plays Ben Tyler, a teacher in Toronto who is diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. His fiancée (Liane Balaban) wants him to get treatment. If that had happened, the film would be pretty boring. So Tyler sets out with a motorcycle and drives from Toronto to Tofino.
There are adventures that involve the Tim Hortons Roll Up the Rim and Win game, Canadian Tire, the actual Stanley Cup, and more hidden Canadian gems.
The scenery is interesting and beautiful. The plot is pretty good. Tyler figures out a few things and we get to enjoy Canada in the process. Campbell Scott acts as the film's narrator.
For those who might be confused, One Week has nothing to do with the Barenaked Ladies song. The soundtrack is very Canadian, including Sam Roberts and the Great Lake Swimmers. Gord Downie ironically plays a cancer survivor in this 2008 film.
Cas & Dylan doesn't involve as far a trip going from Winnipeg to Vancouver. Western Canada, along with Tatiana Maslany and Richard Dreyfuss, are plenty of reasons to watch the film. Dreyfuss plays a doctor who is dying and wants to go to the West Coast to die. Maslany is along for the ride.
The story is very simple and nice. You know the doctor is going to die and you still cry along with Maslany when that happens (spoiler alert but you kind of know).
The great actors form a quick chemistry even when the characters are awkward in the beginning. Canada looks good too.
The film also marks the directorial debut of Jason Priestley.
Down the Road Again is the 2011 sequel to Goin' Down the Road. The original is the better film but isn't as much about the road trip outside of the first 10 minutes, though with a great Bruce Cockburn soundtrack. In the sequel, Pete gets the old car from Vancouver to Toronto and then Joey's daughter (Kathleen Robertson) goes the rest of the way back to Cape Breton in Nova Scotia.
Cloudburst shows off quite a bit of Nova Scotia but the first part of the film is spent in the United States. Olympia Dukakis and Brenda Fricker play a lesbian couple who run away to Nova Scotia so they can get married and stay together in the Thom Fitzgerald film.
Going the Distance goes from the West Coast to Toronto, though I am not familiar with this 2004 teen comedy film. Highway 61 is a great Canadian road trip film but most of what you see isn't Canada but the United States.
A film doesn't have to be a road trip to showcase Canada. The Sweet Hereafter shows how pretty Western Canada can be in the winter. The Year Dolly Parton Was My Mom shows how flat southern Manitoba is. The variations of Anne of Green Gables shows off northern Prince Edward Island, provided they film there.
Non-Canadian films such as The Shipping News (Newfoundland); Brokeback Mountain (Alberta); and The Revenant (Alberta and British Columbia) make the beauty of Canada a major co-star.
Ken Eom defected from North Korea in 2008. A CBC article notes that the North Korean film Nation and Destiny gave him his first glimpse of Canada. Eom talked about Toronto specifically where he lived for 3 years. "I could tour the world in one day in Toronto." That is a rather remarkable impression of Canada.
video credit: YouTube/Mongrel Trailers
photo credit: Cas & Dylan