| 16 min

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This short documentary is a portrait of Frederick Varley, Canadian painter and member of the Group of Seven. In the film, Varley returns to his studio in Toronto after a sketching trip. The camera moves about the studio selecting examples of his canvases and watches him as he begins a new painting.

Frederick Varley, a member of the Group of Seven, was showcased in this documentary bio from 1953. Shot in 35 mm complete with a script and dramatic musical score, it is unlike the type of biopic we are used to seeing today, resembling more a feature film than a documentary. Already in his seventies when the film was made, Varley is seen in his studio painting and contemplating what the world has to offer. Varley was greatly affected with what he saw working as a Canadian War Artist in World War I. The desolation and conflict forced him to search for beauty in everyday things and this is reflected in the paintings presented.

Albert Ohayon
From the playlist: The 1950s: Television and the Move to Montreal

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Varley, Allan Wargon, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

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  • director
    Allan Wargon
  • script
    Allan Wargon
  • producer
    Tom Daly
  • photography
    Denis Gillson
  • music
    Louis Applebaum

  • garyh

    Fascinating portrait of an interesting, and seemingly pleasant, artist.

    garyh, 23 Jul 2020
  • Stephen F.

    Strange documentary of an interesting artist! Just got started and then it ends! It is too bad someone didn't do a sensitive interview with him...

    Stephen F., 7 May 2020
  • CoryTheRaven

    Not my favourite member of the Group of Seven, but that was probably the most prowerful documentary about an artist I've ever seen. Wow!

    CoryTheRaven, 28 Jun 2012
  • jmatlin

    @royha - We were having some technical problems. Everything should be fine now.

    jmatlin, 19 Nov 2010
  • royha

    Hello, why is it that I'm not able to view either Lismer or Varley's documentry films as advertised on the NFB web site?

    royha, 19 Nov 2010

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