Format: 16mm Black & White
Runtime: 88 min
National Film Board of Canada
In the summer of 1968, Jesse (John Robb), a young political activist in Montreal, publishes an independent underground newspaper. His girlfriend Karen (Elaine Malus), however, is becoming disillusioned with activism. David (Gary Rader), an American draft dodger who favours spiritual enlightenment over protest, comes to stay at their apartment and Karen becomes attracted to his ideas. Jesse goes to the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, but, rather than join him, Karen goes with David to a commune. After a brief affair, Karen tires of David’s abstract ideas and the passivity of his friends and leaves. Jesse, meanwhile, is witness to the terrible violence that grips the convention in Chicago. Upon his return to Montreal, he and Karen resume their lives together.
One of the most important films of the sixties, Prologue was widely released abroad and well-received by most foreign critics. At the time, it was praised for its sensitivity and unpretentious realism, but, in retrospect, it seems more important for its persuasive and convincing encapsulation of the period’s central social dilemma: to drop out of society or devote yourself to changing the system. Though styled like a documentary, the film was carefully pre-scripted before the Chicago convention took place.
Winner of a BAFTA Documentary Award and a Canadian Film Award for Christopher Cordeaux’s film editing, Prologue remains – in theme, style and acting – a testament to the (unfulfilled) potential of Canadian cinema at the time.