The Champions, Part 1: Unlikely Warriors

The Champions, Part 1: Unlikely Warriors

| 57 min

In Part 1 of this 3-part documentary series, director Donald Brittain chronicles the early years of Pierre Elliott Trudeau and René Lévesque. From their university days in the 1950s to 1967 when Lévesque left the Liberal Party and Trudeau became the federal Minister of Justice, Brittain attempts to get at the heart of what makes these men so fascinating.

The trick here was to create films about a whole period in Canada – the 50s, 60s and 70s – and not just about 2 men and their politics. This film was to be the embodiment of 2 separate tracks in the evolution of the country. When the first 2 films were completed, Donald knew there would be a third – it was just a question of when.

When Trudeau took his long walk in the snow in February of 1982, Donald knew that he had an opening for his third and final film. The crew waited all winter to shoot the scene. The delivery date loomed and there was NO snowstorm. Then one Saturday night while eating dinner, I got the call from Donald. "Have you looked outside? It's snowing. Big snowflakes. Get the crew, the racoon coat!"

It was Andreas Poulsson (Cinematographer) and his wife's coat that stood in for Trudeau. Donald had him walk into the wilds of Westmount Park, which Donald assured everyone was just like Rockcliffe.

Adam Symansky
From the playlist: Donald Brittain: Writer, filmmaker, storyteller.

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  • director
    Donald Brittain
  • script
    Donald Brittain
  • narrator
    Donald Brittain
  • producer
    Janet Leissner
    Donald Brittain
  • executive producer
    Barrie Howells
  • photography
    Andreas Poulsson
  • sound
    Hans Oomes
  • editing
    Ted Remerowski
    Steven Kellar
  • sound editing
    Abbey Jack Neidik
  • re-recording
    Michel Descombes
    Jean-Pierre Joutel
  • music
    Eldon Rathburn

The Champions, Part 1: Unlikely Warriors
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  • tjdix

    Just finished watching the entire set and am so impressed. This gets my vote as the greatest political documentary ever made about Canada. Bravo and merci.

    tjdix, 28 Sep 2012
  • Vivanov

    This helped me ace a socials test last week. It's awesome how this is all online for free.

    Vivanov, 7 Dec 2011
  • DFB

    Wow, great movie. I'm from the US, and am just now starting to learn about Canada. This film answered a lot of my questions, about Trudeau and Quebec sovereignty. Thank you for making it available online-makes me want to know more about your country and your history.

    DFB, 26 Apr 2010

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The Champions, Part 1: Unlikely Warriors, Donald Brittain, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

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