The Great Canadian Biopic: 5 Films that Celebrate Us on the Big Screen

April 2, 2017

Nothing cements a legacy in popular consciousness quite like a biopic. Seeing a person’s story brought to life on screen allows us intimate access to the details (accurate or not) of a trajectory, and, in doing so, makes people we’ve only heard or read about become human. The world of the film begin to feel familiar to us, making those dates our history teachers tried to hammer into our heads become easier to remember.

Already churning up ways to turn class time into movie time? We’re here to help. Here’s a list of Canadian films about famous Canadians to kindly suggest to your teach for fifth period:

John A: Birth of a Country (2011)

You might not find Shawn Doyle on your tenner, but you will find him playing one of Canada’s premier prime ministers in John A: Birth of a Country. Learn about the life and achievements of John A. MacDonald in this high-intensity CBC film which proves that politics is anything but boring. A healthy dose of both history and entertainment, this movie truly has something for everyone.

Edwin Boyd (2011)

All press is good press… right? For aspiring actor turned bank robber Edwin Alonzo Boyd, the answer is a resounding “yes.” The WW2 vet may have turned hard times harder by resorting to a life of crime, but don’t let the grit get you – the man had style. This look at the life of famous Canadian career criminal Edwin Boyd (played by Scott Speedman) is fun, fast, and flashy while giving us a peek at life in Canada during the mid-20th century.

Thirty-Two Short Films About Glenn Gould (1993)

A collage of 32 short portraits of renowned pianist Glenn Gould reveals the character of one of Canada’s most celebrated musicians. The unique structure of the film allows for a remarkably deep account of his life: by combining dramatized scenes with documentary-style segments, audiences are left with an enduring and pronounced understanding of the man behind the music.

Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould   Louis Cyr: l'homme le plus fort du monde film still

Louis Cyr: L’Homme le Plus Fort du Monde (2013)

This biopic delves into the wondrous life of Québécois strongman Louis Cyr (Antoine Bertrand) and his rise to prominence as the world’s strongest athlete. An honest investigation into his professional ambitions, personal life, and the world he took by storm, Louis Cyr: L’Homme le Plus Fort du Monde guides us through the events that made Cyr a legend.

The Rocket (2005)

No list of films on famous Canadians would be complete without the inclusion of a hockey hero. The Rocket, a biopic on star player Maurice Richard (played by Roy Dupuis), tells the story of a man who overcame his circumstance to become one of the most recognizable names in hockey. Touching on some of the tensions between French and English Canada, the film familiarizes us with Canada’s political climate during the mid-20th century.

In compiling this list, something really irked us – there’s a notable lack of biopics on Canadian women! With so many incredible women doing so many incredible things, it seems impossible that this hasn’t happened yet. Definitely something to think about.

Anyway, let us know if we missed your favourite Canadian movie on your favourite Canadian on Twitter @CanFilmDay!

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