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Al Purdy Was Here (2015) Online HD

Al Purdy Was Here
Al Purdy Was Here (2015)
  • Director:
    Brian D. Johnson
  • Category:
  • Writer:
    Marni Jackson,Brian D. Johnson
  • Cast:
    Margaret Atwood,Jean Baird,George Bowering
  • Time:
    1h 30min
  • Year:
What does it take to carve out a career as a poet? Why on earth would anyone attempt it? Al Purdy Was Here is the portrait of an artist driven to become a great Canadian poet at a time when the category barely existed. Al Purdy is a charismatic tower of contradictions: a "sensitive man" who whips out a poem in a bar fight; a factory worker who finds grace in an Arctic flower; a mentor to young writers who remained a stranger to his sons. Purdy has been called the last, best and most Canadian poet. "Voice of the Land" is engraved on his tombstone. But before finding fame as the country's unofficial poet laureate, he endured years of poverty and failure. Born in Wooler, Ontario in 1918, Al was a high-school dropout who hopped freight trains during the Great Depression. He lived all over the country, working in mattress factories. After two decades of writing what he admits was bad poetry, in 1957 he and his wife build an A-frame cabin on Roblin Lake in Ontario's Prince Edward County. ...
Credited cast:
Margaret Atwood Margaret Atwood - Herself
Jean Baird Jean Baird - Herself
George Bowering George Bowering - Himself
Joseph Boyden Joseph Boyden - Himself
Bruce Cockburn Bruce Cockburn - Himself
Leonard Cohen Leonard Cohen - Himself (voice)
Gord Downie Gord Downie - Himself
Sarah Harmer Sarah Harmer - Herself
Michael Ondaatje Michael Ondaatje - Himself (voice)
Doug Paisley Doug Paisley - Himself
Gordon Pinsent Gordon Pinsent - Himself
Al Purdy Al Purdy - Himself (archive footage)
Eurithe Purdy Eurithe Purdy - Herself
Tanya Tagaq Tanya Tagaq - Herself
Jesse Zubot Jesse Zubot - Himself

Al Purdy Was Here (2015)
A Canadian documentary explores the life and work of poet Al Purdy (1918 - 2000). The film also centres around an A-frame cottage in Prince Edward County, Ontario that was built by Purdy and his wife Eurithe. This location has been used as a gathering for many other artists both established and aspiring.

Director Brian D. Johnson has done a beautiful job in making a film that is as moving and poetic as Purdy's writings themselves. He perfectly juxtaposes the lovely rural settings (including older films and photos) with poetry readings and audio interviews. Some interviews (both audio and visual) were made for the film while others were from wonderful, older footage.

Many artists have made contributions to this film. The better known include Margaret Atwood, Leonard Cohen, and Michael Ondaatje (voice only for the latter two). The most moving moments in this fine film are when Purdy's poems are expressed via musicians. These moments were magical. There are also touching poems that pay tribute to the culture of Canada's First Nations.

It's worth noting that Purdy was able to make a living only from the 1960s onward. The A-Frame cottage is now used to nourish aspiring poets during temporary periods. One such poet is the young and talented Katherine Leyton.

When interviewed, Leyton shows the strong character that also comes through in her fine poetry. Despite her talent, she is aware that our current economic and cultural climate could not permit her to make a living as a writer as Purdy could. This monologue left me feeling very nostalgic for the good old 1960s and 1970s. The collective mindset of that time was so amazing, nourishing, and open-minded, it's hard to believe it took place on the same planet where we're all living right now.

Despite these feelings of sadness, melancholy, and yearning, it was yet another great example of the soulfulness and spirit of this beautiful movie. Can you imagine a time when most Canadians had at least a passing interest in our own artists rather than thinking exclusively of American culture?

And there's a bonus: watching Margaret Atwood playing pool in a small-town bar - and being damn good at it, too.