The Outlander (Le Survenant)

Drama, 2005
Running time: 02:18:00
Script: Diane Cailhier based on the 1945 novel by Germaine Guèvremont
Director: Éric Canuel
Produced by: Films Vision 4
Distributed by: Alliance Atlantis Vivafilm
Principal cast: Jean-Nicolas Verreault, Anick Lemay, Gilles Renaud, François Chénier, Catherine Trudeau and Germain Houde
Music: Michel Corriveau
Illustrator: Frédéric Back

Synopsis

In the fall of 1910, a mysterious stranger arrives in a Quebec village. The inward-looking inhabitants are scandalized and fascinated by this freedom-loving adventurer, who brings tales of the outside world to their quiet backwater. Although he arouses resentment and jealousy in some, he is befriended by Didace, the village patriarch, and wins the affections of Angélina. But friendship and the love of a good woman are no match for his unquenchable wanderlust.

A mythical figure

Le Survenant holds a large place in Quebec popular culture. Its hero, a drifter dubbed "the god of the road," is the creation of novelist Germaine Guèvremont. Her 1945 story was adapted as a radio drama and then a hit TV series before being brought to the big screen in 2005 by director Éric Canuel. The film opens with a series of live images crossfading into illustrations executed in pastel and gouache by Frédéric Back.

Opening credits

When the film was in post-production, producer Claude Veillet asked Frédéric Back what he thought of the opening sequence. Feeling it did not pay tribute to the novel on which the screenplay was based, Back offered to create a series of drawings emerging from the book to introduce the action of the film. His suggestion was enthusiastically accepted.

Frédéric Back's inspiration for the illustrations came from period photos and sketches of the region he had made between 1948 and 1952, when he would often bicycle in the countryside around Montreal. He was particularly struck by the image of hundreds of white boats tied up at the Sorel wharf in the fall and spring.