Canadian Consulting Engineer

Black and white film records blackest day in engineering history

February 2, 2009
By Canadian Consulting Engineer

A feature film recreating the worst event to occur in Canadian engineering history will open to the public in Quebe...

A feature film recreating the worst event to occur in Canadian engineering history will open to the public in Quebec on February 6. “Polytechnique,” is a fictionalized account of the Montreal Massacre, the killing of 14 female engineering students at the Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal on December 6, 1989. The women were separated from the male students and shot down in classrooms and corridors by a gunman who then killed himself. Several other women and men were wounded in the rampage.

Reaction to the idea of making a film about the tragedy has been mixed, although the film makers said they tried to ensure they were respectful to the victims and their families. A commentator in the Montreal Gazette said the movie “seemed to go on for an eternity,” and wondered why the horrific shootings had to be played over twice.

The  film is shot in black and white. The murderer, Marc Lepine, is not named and has few words to say, but the actor who plays his part — Maxim Gaudette – reportedly gives “a chilling performance.”

Produced in both French and English, “Polytechnique” will be released across Canada at a later date.

The 76-minute movie stars Karine Vanasse, who was only six years old at the time of the massacre almost 20 years ago. The director is Denis Villeneuve, who according to the Canadian Press, “has delivered an unflinching but compelling film that successfully manages to tell its story without venturing into the maudlin or sensation as similar movies based on true events have sometimes done.”

The tragedy 20 years ago in Montreal inspired the establishment of the Canadian Memorial Foundation, and has become a rallying cry for encouraging women to enter engineering.

The National Film Board of Canada also distributes a film about the massacre. It is a half-hour documentary, called “After the Montreal Massacre,” and includes testimony from Sylvie Gagnon, who survived with a bullet wound to her head.



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