CANNES CLASSICS – Orderers and Michel Brault’s “cinéma-vérité”

Michel Brault © RR

Prix de la mise en scène at Cannes in 1975, Michel Brault‘s film remains a major testament to the “October Crisis” which shook Quebec in 1970. Claude Fournier calibrated the film during its restoration. He looks back on it now.


Film still © RR

Why is Orderers (Les Ordres) considered to be one of the greatest Canadian classics?
Its form and its subject matter make it an important work in Quebec’s collective memory. While the War Measures Act was implemented in Quebec during the October Crisis in 1970, and a Quebec minister and British consul had just been kidnapped by the Quebec Liberation Front, Michel Brault was looking to shoot documentary footage of the occupation and arrests. But the military were everywhere in Montreal and stopped him.

What did Michel Brault use to help him to write the screenplay?
A series of interviews he conducted with people who had been unjustly arrested and imprisoned without charge. He recorded around fifty of them. And it’s the resonance with “cinéma vérité”, which Michel invented, which inspired the very original structure of his film.

An initial restoration of the film supervised by Michel Brault took place in 2009…
Michel was concerned with ensuring a certain immortality for his film. To him, digital technology was the solution to do that. We first digitised the film in HD, and then we calibrated it in colour with his help, and proceeded to several restorations including a lot of image stabilisation.

What have you been able to improve that wasn’t possible in 2009?
In early 2015, we almost started the film again from nothing. Orderers (Les Ordres) was filmed with little funding, largely in black and white with a shoulder camera, and there were too many shots where the position wasn’t very precise. We realised that 4K brought out these little technical faults even more. So we concentrated on stabilising the images.


Interview by Benoit Pavan



Monday 18 May / Buñuel Theatre / 4.30pm
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