The Sweet Hereafter As A Canadian Movie

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The Sweet Hereafter As A Canadian Movie Essay, Research Paper The mood established by the opening scene is maintained throughout the film. The Sweet Hereafter has a very calm feel to it throughout. The action is not fast-paced or thrilling; the movie?s appeal is more related to its characters and its emotion than to its action. Nonetheless, I found it to be an irresistible film. The plot of The Sweet Hereafter centres around a tragic bus accident in a small town. Many directors and writers, given the same storyline, would have hit the audience hard by packing the scenes with teary speeches and emotional climaxes. I didn?t find that this movie followed that oft-used formula. Instead, it presented hard-to-categorize characters and posed hard-to-answer questions. That?s what

caught my attention most about it and why I enjoyed it so much. There is no clear protagonist, no clear right or wrong answers, and no clear, hard-and-fast central plot. The movie forced me to draw my own conclusions and make up my own mind. One of the most captivating things about this film, in my opinion, lies in some of the scenes that strike you emotionally . . . without hitting you over the head and yelling “Be sad!” One example of this is the scene when Mitchell Stephens, the lawyer who is attempting to persuade the shattered citizens of the town to file a lawsuit for compensation, recalls a near-disaster that occurred when he was much younger. His young daughter, Zoey, has accidentally been poisoned by spiders, and the doctor tells him that he must rush her to the

hospital (forty miles away). But if Zoey stops breathing, says the doctor, Stephens must perform an emergency tracheotomy on her. I found one of the most powerful shots of the film to be the one of the round-faced, serious toddler in the front seat, sitting in her daddy?s lap as he sings her a lullaby and a knife hovers inches from her head. It is these emotive scenes which made the film so hard-hitting. The Sweet Hereafter did not conform to the typical Hollywood style. Just about every Hollywood rule in the book was either bent or broken. Chronological time sequence was not followed ? the movie jumped from year to year (though somehow still clinging to continuity). The actual bus crash around which the entire movie is centred is not shown until halfway through the film. The

timeline moves back and forth seamlessly, without confusing the audience or losing credibility. In contrast to many films, there was no clear hero or villain of the story, no leading lady, no real definable climax. The bus accident itself is not presented in gory detail. In fact, little detail is shown at all. I had been expecting a huge, melodramatic tearjerker of a scene that would shatter my sleep patterns for weeks. Instead I got a shot from the viewpoint of a powerless father atop a hill, looking down at the bus as it sinks into the lake. The scene did not lose any punch for its lack of visible bloodshed, though, as we have seen some of the aftermath of the accident at this point and it retains its power; in fact, the buildup is all the more suspenseful because we know what

is coming. There are many other ways in which this film avoids the common sentimentality of most Hollywood films. Much of the cinematography and the actual camera work is very different from your average American flick. Most movies avoid “boring” nature footage, other than the occasional establishing shot. Not so in The Sweet Hereafter. There are numerous shots of fir-covered mountains, slow pans across snowy landscapes, and long shots of vehicles moving on high hilltop roads. This cinematography seems to be very Canadian in its affinity with nature. I think it contributes to a sense of isolation or loneliness in the film, and adds to the mood rather than taking away from the action. Another difference in the cinematography is in the “two-shots.” Whenever two characters