JOURNEY TO SPIRIT ISLAND
DIRECTOR: LASZLO PAL
COUNTRY: CANADA 1993
CINEMATOGRAPHY: VILMOS SZIGMOND
MUSIC: FREDRIC MYROW
CAST: Bettina (Maria),Brandon Douglas (Michael), Gabriel Downs (Willie), Tony Aierto (Hawk), Marie Antoinette Rodgers (Jimmy), Skeeter Vaugh (Henry), Nick Ramus, Tarek McCarthy
SUPER FEATURES: Nice story about Indian rights and desires.
Like many cultures, the NAHKUT (northern Canadian Indians), have always dedicated a special area for their burial grounds. However, modern days and the speed of progress and commercialization are threatening one thing which many cultures have respected for so very long. In this case, the group has had their burial ground in a remote island, which is becoming increasingly more attractive to many outside interests. It seems that someone has an idea about turning the island into a tourist spot with a resort and all the trimmings.
And as is the usual case, there are some Indians who have been convinced that this is a good idea, and a chance for success, and much more money for the poorest tribe. And this film is really about the extremes one will go through just to try and speed up the process.
But Hawk makes a misjudgment. His hunger for progress is caught up in the Reaganomics of his area. Cash in. And at any price. He, however, does not seem to realize that there are other forces working and that he needs some support, other than the villagers. They have
come to accept his ideas, and are ready to sign a deal for the resort, and in the process, show that they are in danger of cutting off their very
livelihood to their once glorious past. The real question is: future with no spirit, or future with A spirit.
The film's obvious content is that there is no future without the full and complete spirit, regardless of who we are. Lucky for us, the white
man has not been too oppressed as yet, so that they too will lose their burial grounds in this day and age.
Mixed into this is a wonderful child's tale of becoming an adult. The young woman, is on a walkabout of sorts with the younger brother and two friends. And they are to go to the island. Jimmy seems to think that the young Maria is the person who can lift the veil of doom from their
own people, and help save them from the oppressing modern forces. She doesn't tell us this, and she does not explain much of the mystical
goings on either, but in many ways that is what makes the film even more attractive, and not pushy. Disguised as a story, and adventure
for four kids, is much easier than tackling the livelihood of many indigenous tribes.
While in the island, the children help Maria discover what her dreams really mean, and why they came to the island. They take care of what they have to do, and in the process dismantle the bad intent of Hawk's, who has been going to the island and making sure that the eagles, and various other animals move from the area, so that it can not be considered a natural habitat, and therefore a protected area, which of course, helps the commercial development, if there is going to be any.
An excellent film, never boring, not pushy at all, with no spiritual pretensions. It just does its thing, lightly, and in a subtle way, and in doing so, it keeps us interested, rather than lectured.
Worth seeing. Good for all children. Take the family.
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