|Directed by Joyce Wieland|
|Canada, 1969 (avant-garde, 82 minutes, colour / black and white, English)|
|Also known as "Reason over Passion"|
"[Reason over Passion is] a feature-length avant-garde film which brackets a section of treated and rephotographed footage of Pierre Elliott Trudeau at the 1968 Liberal convention with a series of hand-held tracking shots of the Canadian landscape from coast to coast, punctuated throughout by electronic beeps on the soundtrack and overlaid with multiple anagrams of the words 'reason over passion' (Trudeau's famous phrase) as superimposed subtitles."
-- Kay Armatage (source)
|Film Credits (partial):|
|Film Editing:||Joyce Wieland|
|Production Company:||Corrective Films|
"At the time I photographed it [La raison avant la passion] (1967), I was in a panic; an ecological, spiritual panic about this country. [...] I was thinking about The Group of Seven and that certain artistic records have to be made at certain times. Just look what has happened to many of the places they sketched. There are old shoes and hamburger buns in those lakes. That country inspired some of the greatest landscapes painted in this world. I photographed the whole length of southern Canada to preserve it in my own way, with my own vision of it. I felt very strongly—very passionately. Yet, the total result of the finished film is a nostalgic, sad feeling about the landscape."
-- Joyce Wieland (source)
"Some of the [Canadian] students really liked [Reason over Passion]. People in New York or Canada wonder why I made such a film. But Canadians were really overwhelmed. It was like a fantastic compliment given to them. In New York, on the other hand, they might accuse me of being a rightist for feeling that way about my country. Maybe some of them didn't see the irony. People have hissed when Trudeau's statement, 'Reason over passion; that is the theme of all my writing' comes on and the applause begins, because they don't understand that there is an irony in that. People here [in New York] just don't believe and say that it must be a propaganda film."
-- Joyce Wieland (source)
"In the opening sequence of her film Reason over Passion [...], Wieland includes a written version of the words to O Canada immediately followed by a close-up of the lower half of her face silently mouthing the words to the national anthem. This firmly establishes Wieland as author of this alternative, gendered discourse of nation, literally claiming and re-presenting her own version of the anthem as intimately bound to the bodily and sensorial."
-- Kristy A. Holmes-Moss (source)
"[La raison avant la passion's] ambiguous approach to producing patriotism surely must result in part from its use of a post-Pop art approach to ends entirely different from those one usually associates with the earlier movement. Wieland has been described as post-Warhol, but one cannot imagine a more different artistic personality in terms of themes and intent. Where Pop art imagery is so often used to disparage or satirize, Wieland's is far more positive."
-- George Lellis (source)
"The film takes a statement from then-Prime Minister of Canada Pierre Trudeau ('Reason over passion, that is the theme of all of my writings') as its cohering element, as its caveat about devaluing assumptions and emotions in the search for (supposed) rationality and truth. [...] Trudeau's statement is rendered incoherent, literally, by the seemingly random scrambling of the letters of the alphabet that make up his original utterance and, metaphorically, in what (if anything) this statement says about Canada. In so doing, Wieland makes a powerful statement about what becomes of passion in the face of obsessive ordering and rationality; it loses meaning, it loses sense."
-- James Missen (source)
"The magnificence of the film [La raison avant la passion] lies in its imagery: a moving excursion across Canada from east to west. Shots of the setting sun running along the horizon, a train emerging from a tunnel into a snowscape burned out on the film stock, a harbour seen through the tilted camera. These images incarnate the epic spirit of the film which with all its contradictions (of form and image, sound and picture) is extravagantly ambitious and elevated. Yet one feels more sadness than grandeur at the passing landscapes, the flashing animations of the Canadian flag, and the grainy slowed down images of Trudeau. At the end we have seen an ecological dirge, not a poem of becoming so much as of what might have been."
-- P. Adams Sitney (source)