In honour of the centenary commemorations of Canada’s participation in the First World War, the Lost Dominion Screening Collective is giving local film fans a rare chance to see the biggest-budget Canadian film of the 1920s on the big screen.
The 1928 First World War drama Carry On Sergeant! (not to be confused with the later British comedy series of the same name) was shot at Trenton Studios in Ontario and in the surrounding countryside by British director Bruce Bairnsfather, with legendary Canadian filmmaker Gordon Sparling working as his assistant director.
At a cost of $500,000, it was the biggest-budget film produced in Canada up to that time. Much of that went to recreating WWI-era France, with sprawling sets and battlefield scenes featuring hundreds of extras and the use of real explosives.
The story follows a group of workers from Hamilton who join the army to fight in Europe, and the travails and temptations that befall them during the war. The film has excellent production values and presents a drama that may feel surprisingly modern to today’s audiences. Bairnsfather’s insistence on portraying the soldiers as flawed human beings resulted in some criticism from those who expected a straightforward glorification of Canada’s war effort.
Produced as a silent film just as theatres were transitioning to sound, it had only a brief two-month run at the box office before it was removed from circulation in January 1929. It fell into obscurity for many years before Gordon Sparling donated a print to Library and Archives Canada, resulting in a complete restoration of the film in 1990. It is now considered one of the most important films in Canadian film history.
This screening continues Ottawa musician Mike Dubue’s tradition of composing and performing new scores to classic films. His previous work includes music for such classics as Metropolis (1927), The Cabinet Of Doctor Caligari (1920), The Adventures Of Prince Achmed (1926) and the earliest-surviving Canadian feature film, Back To God’s Country (1919). This time Mike is back with his band HILOTRONS, who have been releasing critically acclaimed albums since 2002, and who are known for their funky pop and experimental sensibilities. The score includes reworked versions of composer Ennio Morricone’s film classics, including A Fistful Of Dollars, Danger: Diabolik and The Thing.
– Lost Dominion Screening Collective
Presented by the Lost Dominion Screening Collective and accompanied by LIVE MUSIC from the HILOTRONS
General admission $15
ByTowne Members $10