#tbt Donald Brittain’s ‘Fields of Sacrifice’

By Pat Mullen

In the many debates over titles to include in POV’s list of ‘Doc Essentials’ in Issue #105, and I assure there were many, one of the most hotly debated titles was Donald Brittain’s Fields of Sacrifice. A filmmaker as canonical as Brittain is certainly a cornerstone of Canadian film industry and, as with a number of notable names, the conversation shifted towards which specific title to include. Even a glance at his NFB page shows that he could hold a majority share of titles on the list with films such as Memorandum Ladies and Gentlemen: Mr. Leonard Cohen, co-directed with Don Owen; or his feature-length masterpiece co-directed with John Kramer, Volcano: An Inquiry Into the Life and Death of Malcolm Lowry. (The latter gets a mention in the article ‘North of Hollywood’ for its portrait of late writer Malcolm Lowry.)

It’s his 1964 film Fields of Sacrifice, however, that readers might want to revisit first leading up to Canada 150. This elegiac film tours the battlefields of fallen Canadian soldiers throughout history. “Proud and lyrical,” writes Andrew McIntosh in the POV article ‘Boots on the Crowned’, “it conveys a sombre, proud and pensive tone as it visits battle sites where Canadian soldiers fought and died in the First and Second World Wars….” This valuable doc preserves the lives and efforts of Canadians at war and is worth a look as we continue to take stock of the nation leading up to July 1st.

Watch Fields of Sacrifice below:

Fields of Sacrifice, Donald Brittain, provided by the National Film Board of Canada