CRAC!

Video

A man gives his sweetheart a rocking chair he's made especially for her.

Credit: Radio-Canada, colour, 00:58

Background

After All Nothing, Frédéric Back wanted to create a film to celebrate a rapidly disappearing, if not altogether lost, way of life in Quebec. The film was inspired by a French homework assignment written by his ten-year-old daughter, Süzel. Enchanted by her tale of a trusty old rocking chair that no one appreciates anymore, Frédéric Back put it away for safekeeping and eventually used it as the starting point for the storyline of Crac!.

The rocking chair is a standard feature in Quebec homes. From one generation to the next, it accompanies family members from cradle to grave. Frédéric Back used the constant presence of the rocking chair in the life of a family to reflect upon themes very close to his heart: the know-how, traditions, games and values of times gone by.

"In the film, the peasant who makes the chair is one of my uncles, a carpenter with whom I used to spend my holidays in Alsace. He's also the wheelwright I used to watch working in Brittany. And he's the carpenter in the village of Huberdeau in the Quebec Laurentians."
F.B.

Synopsis

For many years, a rocking chair is part of the everyday life of a Quebec family, patiently standing in as any number of make-believe objects in the children's games. Repeatedly broken, repaired and repainted, it is finally thrown out without a second thought. It almost winds up in a city dump truck, but is given a second lease on life as the useful and comfortable companion of a young security guard at a museum of modern art. When the crowds go home and night falls on the silent, empty gallery, the chair comes to life and relives its colourful past, while the paintings dance to the lively rhythms of jigs and reels.

Message

Beneath its playful exterior, Crac! conveys the concerns of its activist filmmaker, who implicitly asks, "Should we be so eager to trade in time-tried values for every latest fad?"

Crac! is a celebration of Quebec culture, with lively traditional tunes performed by the folk group Le rêve du diable taking centre stage. The filmmaker also wanted to pay tribute to older generations of Quebec painters, whose simple portrayals of scenes from daily life are a valuable record of the clothes people wore, the way they lived and their occupations. Some of these painters have fallen into obscurity, but Frédéric Back revives their legacy, humorously contrasting it with the aloofness and austerity of modern art which, like contemporary music, makes little effort to move or enchant its audiences.

Some of the painters evoked in Crac! are Krieghoff, Walker, Triaud, O'Brien, Morrice, Julien, Lemieux, Huot, Thomson, Borduas, Leduc, Riopelle, Snow, Théroux, Mousseau, Mc Ewen and Molinari.

The success of the film led to the publication of a children's book of the same name, written by the filmmaker's wife, Ghylaine Paquin-Back. The book Crac! captures the essence of the film, with a series of drawings reworked to summarize each scene.