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Western Animation / The Romance of Transportation in Canada

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The Romance of Transportation in Canada is a 1952 animated short film (11 minutes) directed by Colin Low, produced by the National Film Board of Canada.

It is, as the title indicates, a capsule history of transportation in Canada. It starts with the first white settlers arriving on "our then unknown continent" and exploring it via canoes paddled by First Nations peoples. Canada is further opened up by use of canals, steamships, the railroad, automobiles, and finally the airplane. Despite the rather dry title and the aforementioned dry subject matter, the film is light whimsy, with humorous animation throughout.

Got an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Short Film, the first ever for the National Film Board of Canada.note  Many more Oscar nods would follow, as the NFB hit artistic heights in animation while the rest of the art form slid into its Dark Ages.

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  • And the Adventure Continues: The narration concludes by anticipating that transportation in Canada may go through even more choices in the future. This is coupled by a flying saucer coming down from the sky and hovering over the city.
  • Flying Saucer: A classic flying saucer comes down from the sky and hovers over the city traffic. The little alien inside looks over the city for a bit before flying away.
  • How We Got Here: The opening sequence shows a pilot bailing out of his plane and landing in a crowded city intersection, snarling traffic, in a scene that brings together planes, cars, railroads and ships, to illustrate how people get around in Canada. The cartoon then jumps back to the arrival of the first European settlers, then moves ahead through 300 years to the present day, finally showing a businessman landing in a city by plane, hailing a cab, then getting caught up in a traffic jam...the one caused by the parachutist in the opening sequence.
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  • Ironic Juxtaposition: As the narrator says that passengers on 19th century coaches were "whisked along in relative comfort", we see the passenger in a coach being bounced around the cab like a pinball.
  • Limited Animation: The animation in general is pretty limited. Ocean waves are illustrated by blue curves moving across the screen.
  • Narrator: In lieu of dialogue, a narrator talks about the development of transportation in Canada.
  • Oh, Crap!
    • The pilot when he looks at his fuel gauge and realizes that he's out of gas.
    • The traffic cop when he looks up and realizes that what he thought was the sun is actually a flying saucer.
  • Thick-Line Animation: Thick line throughout, typical of 1950s animation.
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