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The Far Shore

Directed by Joyce Wieland
Canada, 1976 (fiction, 105 minutes, colour, English)
Also known as "L'autre rive", "True Patriot Love"

Film Description:
"Multidisciplinary artist Joyce Wieland takes on Canadian myths through the story of French Canadian artist Eulalie and her engineer anglophone husband, Ross, as they slowly lose touch with one another after moving to Toronto in 1919. Eulalie meets painter Tom (based on Tom Thomson) and connects with him, further jeopardizing her marriage. [...]"
-- Magali Simard (source)

Film Description [in French] :
"Une jeune Québécoise épouse un ingénieur de Toronto, mais elle s'éprend d'un jeune peintre avec qui elle s'enfuit jusqu'à ce qu'ils soient tous les deux retrouvés et abattus."
-- Jana Vosikovska (source)


Film Credits (partial):
Written by: Bryan Barney, Joyce Wieland
Produced by: Pierre Lamy, Judy Steed, Joyce Wieland
Principal Cast: Céline Lomez, Lawrence Benedict, Frank Moore, Sean McCann, Charlotte Blunt, Susan Petrie, Jean Carignan, Cosette Lee, Don LeGros, Leo Leyden, Murray Westgate, Aviva Gerson, David Bolt, Colette Sharp, Dianne Lawrence, Jill Galer, Janet Doherty, Rachel Barney, Keith Craig
Cinematography: Richard Leiterman
Film Editing: George Appleby, Brian French
Music: Douglas Pringle
Production Company: Far Shore Inc.
(sources)

Awards won by The Far Shore

Notes about The Far Shore

(sources)

Quotes by the Director

"All my films are intensely personal. I am not a film theoretician. With my film The Far Shore I tried to sum up many of the things that I love about film. On another level it was a film about Canada made for Canadians and the world."
-- Joyce Wieland (source)

"I did my best to embrace the form of the feature film in this work [The Far Shore] without compromising myself. What I had developed in my past films was stillness, the use of grain, love of light, and personal subject matter. I brought my knowledge of film and joined it to traditional form... I worked for two and a half years preparing story boards, designing camera movement, making notes on lighting. I have over 2000 drawings of which 600 became the working boards, which I used to discuss the camera, lighting, production design of the film."
-- Joyce Wieland (source)

Quotes about The Far Shore

"The Far Shore operates through conventional modes of tragic melodrama, not only in its narrative form but also in its deployment of the cinematic vocabulary of the silent era. Griffithian cross-cutting in the chase scene, use of off-screen space and inscription of archetypal characters in the narrative signify the film's observance of filmic practices from the historical period in which the narrative is situated. The use of silent-era dramatic structures and film language demonstrates once again the multifarious and richly heterogenous arrows in Wieland's creative quiver."
-- Kay Armatage (source)

"The Far Shore was [...] rejected by the avant-garde community for is commitment to sentiment, genre and narrative, and it failed miserably at the box office in Canada as it was laughed off the screen by the very audience Wieland hoped to reach."
-- Kay Armatage (source)

"Ambitious and meticulous, years in the making, exploiting some of the top cinema craftspeople in Canada's film industry, The Far Shore (1976) appropriated and messed around with the genre of period melodrama, presenting a visual allegory about the patriarchal and colonial subjection of women, creative artists, the natural environment, and ultimately the moral degradation of the colonials themselves. The film became a much-admired touchstone of feminist film in Canada. But while the film is conceptually brilliant, it is also deeply flawed: the radical fusion of narrative and formalist cinemas was simply too ambitious to perfect on the first try."
-- Jonathan Culp (source)

"The Far Shore has energy, ambition, vision and a marvellously confident sense of itself. A notable accomplishment, and a triumph of Wielandism."
-- Robert Fulford (source)

"The heavy freight of symbolic conflict -- art versus commerce, Quebec versus Ontario, nature versus exploitation -- [...] makes The Far Shore a public statement as well as a narrative film. Some audiences may find it hard to digest: I found it suggestive and moving."
-- Robert Fulford (source)

"The Far Shore is grounded in Canadian history -- it is based on Joyce Wieland's vision of the painter Tom Thomson, whose canoe was found overturned in a northern lake; on the character of Joyce Wieland's mother-in-law, a Quebecoise who was reared in a convent and prevented by her family from becoming a concert pianist; and on the melodramatic stories of James Oliver Curwood, a popular novelist of the period. Curwood, incidentally and importantly, worked with Nell Shipman, the first Canadian woman director. Shipman's film Back to God's Country, shot on location in Calgary and the Yukon in 1919, was based on a Curwood story -- it is a melodrama to which The Far Shore bears striking affinity. (Joyce Wieland had not seen Back to God's Country when she filmed The Far Shore)."
-- Barbara Halpern Martineau (source)

"It is not for nothing that Joyce Wieland is known as an innovational artist and experimental filmmaker. If most films have as a sub-text the way men see women, The Far Shore presents us with a delicate record of how an especially sensitive woman sees a particular group of men. It is not an encouraging vision. More visual than narrative, more suggestive than explanatory, The Far Shore is nevertheless a most beautiful film -- evocative both of the period it is set in and of the values it represents. In this way, The Far Shore joins the great tradition within Canadian film culture (scarcely recognized as such) that records the inability of Canadian society to provide a meaningful existence for its most sensitive inhabitants. It is thus not only a personal film, a 'feminist' film, but a film which has political significance for the whole Canadian nation and, hopefully, for the world at large."
-- Peter Harcourt (source)

"[Joyce] Wieland's co-optation of aboriginal cultures and identities to politicize her work is evident in The Far Shore, her 1976 feature-length film. Wieland imbues one of the main characters, Tom McLeod, with romantic, imagined notions of Indianness in order to warn viewers of ecological damages to the land caused by capitalist exploitation."
-- Kristy A. Holmes (source)

"Like [Joyce Wieland's] The Far Shore, [Anne Wheeler's] Loyalties appropriates melodramatic generic conventions to a feminist critique, but its textual predecessors are less likely to be found among romantic melodramas than among the darker gothic romances of Jane Eyre or Rebecca."
-- Brenda Longfellow (source)

"While [Joyce] Wieland would eventually return to the experimental format, The Far Shore represents a flamboyant and self-reflexive embrace of melodramatic narrative conventions. [...] Replete with its quota of signs and fuelled by the fetishistic pleasures of period costume and decor, The Far Shore presages the current mania for feminist costume dramas in films like The Piano, Washington Square, Sense and Sensibility, and so on."
-- Brenda Longfellow (source)

"When filming experimentally and painting neo-classically, [Joyce] Wieland is in full command of her materials, but in The Far Shore, control has passed to a narrative form with imperatives that can be met readily by hacks but only with great effort and luck by artists of Wieland's stature. To make a successful narrative film (thoughtful or thoughtless, it doesn't matter), the ability to second-guess an audience's reaction to a line of dialogue or to a bit of business is all-important; otherwise, the message is lost in unwanted laughter."
-- Jay Scott (source)

"In dictionaries and overviews of Canadian film it is sometimes implied that The Far Shore was deemed a fiasco from the moment of its release in 1976, but this perception is inaccurate. [...] Wieland's film was taken seriously at the time of its release [...] and garnered many thoughtful and appreciative reviews."
-- Johanne Sloan (source)

"While [Joyce Wieland's] feature film does not share the style of the earlier experimental films, The Far Shore must, nonetheless, be regarded as an experiment -- in its cross-pollination of cinematic and visual art genres."
-- Johanne Sloan (source)

"The Far Shore is a very beautiful film, the first feature by Toronto artist Joyce Wieland, who for 10 years painted and made avant-garde film shorts in New York. She returned home in 1972 and started work on this film, which cost $480,000 and looks like twice that. Her co-producer, Judy Steed, is also a filmmaker hitherto only of shorts. Suggested by the still mysterious death, decades ago, of a youngish but worldknown Canadian painter, Tom Thomson, junior member of Canada's famed Group of Seven, The Far Shore is a good bet for art houses everywhere and, carefully handled, might go in general release -- perhaps on a double bill, since it lacks names. So did Elvira Madigan, of course, and it was a smash. This is a far fresher film except visually; they're about equal there. Richard Leiterman's lensing, chiefly around Bon Echo Lodge in this general area, is sometimes breathtaking."
-- Variety (source)

Quote about The Far Shore [in French]

"Je me demande ce qui a bien pu pousser l'artiste canadienne Joyce Wieland à réaliser The Far Shore, une vision romanesque et romantique de la vie du peintre Tom Thomson, le plus célèbre artiste du Groupe des Sept? Les réponses sont multiples mais ne suffisent pas à justifier l'existence d'une oeuvre qui déforme la réalité au profit de la fiction et qui ne fait que mythifier la vie déjà assez mythique de Tom Thomson."
-- André Leroux (source)

Publications by the Director about The Far Shore

Bibliography for The Far Shore

Books

Book Chapters

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Journal Articles

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