A Sense of Power
This series of events made consumers aware that petroleum politics were part of a battle with OPEC countries. In fact, the pre-release version of Operation Conservation (view an excerpt) was A Sense of Power. It is likely that the film was more about responding to the events of 1973 than to the threat of oil reserves running out – which, as we know, has yet to happen.
A Personal Approach
Not all sponsored films had a message, attempted to promote the activities of a ministry, or sought to persuade people to the benefits of an idea or course of action. They could take a more subtle point of view, and some – through the efforts of their directors – even became personal films. One of the best examples of this type of film is Death of a Legend (view an excerpt) by filmmaker Bill Mason.
From Film to Television
In fall 1966 the Canadian Wildlife Service asked the NFB to produce a short film on North American wolves to promote conservation efforts of the Service. The film was meant to place the wolf in a positive light, and show how this predator plays an important role in maintaining ecological balance. Death of a Legend (view an excerpt) was originally to be shot in 35 mm and launched the following year as part of Canada’s centennial celebrations. In the end, it was shot in 16 mm and premiered on television in fall 1971.
It took Bill Mason three years to shoot the footage he needed, including images of wolves filmed in their natural habitat on Baffin Island in the Arctic. Mason also brought back two wolves, which he raised in captivity. This allowed him to film images capturing an event that had never been seen before: the birth of seven wolf cubs. He would later return to the Arctic to release four of the wolf cubs and film them as they adapted to an unfamiliar environment. Death of a Legend (view an excerpt) offered a new way of looking at wolves. It debunked the notion that wolves were ferocious, bloodthirsty killers, and focused instead on their social organization and life cycle. The film was first broadcast on CBC on September 28, 1971. It would gain large audiences and many awards, and, in time, was recognized as an NFB classic.
We must protect our forests, this film tells us, because they provide us with primary resources and are popular with vacationers. Images shot from a plane in flight, with an employee of the Ministry of Fisheries and Forestry on board, serve to drive home the message that foresters are effectively watching over and guarding the forest.