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Film / Carts of Darkness

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Carts of Darkness is a 2008 National Film Board of Canada documentary film by Murray Siple about a group of homeless men in the city of North Vancouver who use shopping carts to collect bottles and cans to return for money... and also to race down the city's steep slope for thrills.

The men in the film control the carts using only their weight and one foot during descents that cross intersections, with top speeds claimed to be as high as 70 km/h.

Siple, a former director of extreme sports videos and an avid skateboarder and snowboarder, became a quadriplegic after a car accident in 1996. His first film after his accident, Carts of Darkness allowed him to regain the excitement he had experienced with extreme sports and to relate to a fellow group of outsiders.

It can be found and watched on YouTube.


This film provides examples of:

  • Barefoot Poverty: Avertered, Al makes sure to point out how important footwear is to cart racing and makes sure he always has usable sneakers.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The homeless men trust Siple enough to let him into their lives, Al takes him on a shopping cart ride down one of the steeper hills, and Ferg has a safe place to sleep... but the majority of the men are still homeless and Ferg is still an alcoholic.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Al is arrested halfway through the film and Siple is never told why, aside from vague comments about theft.
  • Dream-Crushing Handicap: Siple loved extreme skateboarding and snowboarding, at least before his accident left him quadriplegic.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Ferg is an alcoholic and mentions suicide at least once.
  • Empty Fridge, Empty Life: When Ferg gets his own home, he points out that his fridge is empty.
  • Advertisement:
  • Hobos
  • Homeless Pigeon Person: Ferg mentions having two pet skunks at one point.
  • Lives in a Van: The old man from the skate park lives in what looks like an old, run down camper.
  • Shopping Cart Antics
  • Shopping Cart of Homelessness
  • Thrill Seeker: The homeless men, as well as the director, are arguably looking for thrills.
  • Wisdom from the Gutter: All of the homeless men have tidbits of wisdom to give Siple, but Al takes the cake when he tells him than any amount drinking can affect his friends and family.