The Rise and Fall of the Great Lakes

The Rise And Fall Of The Great Lakes

Film Less

The Rise and Fall of the Great Lakes

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The Rise and Fall of the Great Lakes is a 1968 Canadian short film. It is a humorous geography lesson where a tour of the Great Lakes is made by a lone canoeist who experiences most of the cataclysmic changes of ages of lake history. Words of the lesson are sung in familiar ballad form.

Some animation is employed in the film to show the coming and going of the Ice Age when the lakes were born, but most of the other episodes of lake history are suggested by camera tricks that affect the canoeman and so emphasize the change. There is, for instance, a scene where open water suddenly turns to ice, freezing the canoe in mid-paddle. Such slapstick effects are employed to mark all the major changes in this history of the Great Lakes.

Sudden changes of level leave the canoe stranded, or submerge the traveller’s tent. Between times the camera examines surviving evidence of the passage of the Ice Age – the striations of the rocks, the folds in the earth of farm landscapes viewed from the air. Toward the end of the film the canoeman seems once more safe from violent change and contentedly paddles across crystal-clear waters. Casually he dips his cup for a drink and savours the good water. But on the second dip the lake has changed. This time when he drinks is not pleasant. The lakes that have survived so many changes without losing their purity are now seen to be sadly fouled by man.


The Rise and Fall of the Great Lakes was created by the NFB for the educational market,...
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