Margaret's Museum VHS
A critically-acclaimed story of one woman's struggle to protect her family and friends from the ravages of the coal-mining industry in a 1940's Nova Scotia town of Scot-Irish immigrants. Touching and memorable. Winner of 6 Genies in the 1996 Canadian National Film Awards
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"Margaret's Museum is a quirky little independent Canadian film made over 10 years ago, featuring an impressive performance by Helena Bonham Carter (trying to do something other than English period pieces) as the title character. Carter is one of the most talented contemporary actresses and her failure to become a major star is a bit of a puzzle.
The film's obscurity is not such a puzzle, it contains just enough wry humor and off-kilter behavior to offend those who take its political message seriously and not enough to become a cult classic. The producers should have amped up the weirdness level a bit.
It will remind viewers of "New Waterford Girl", not just because both were filmed in Nova Scotia, but because the heroines are similar as is the theme of diminished small town expectations. It is probably safe to say that these are the only feature films that reference the town of Antigonish.
Gaelic lovers should especially enjoy "Margaret's Museum as it includes a lot of traditional music. If you are a Scotsman at heart you will pick up on obscure references to things like The Battle of Culloden" (i.e. Bonnie Prince Charlie 1746).
Margaret MacNeil lives with her widowed mother in a small company town in Nova Scotia (1949 judging by the cars). The economy revolves around the coal mine and the story has all the "I owe my soul to the company store" elements (''Sons and Lovers'' and ''The Molly Maguires'' are unfunny examples). Margaret's father and older brother were killed in the mine and her grandfather is barely able to breathe after years of working in "the pit". The broken nature of the family and the cause are symbolized by their house, once a duplex the other unit was destroyed when a portion of the tunnel underneath collapsed.
Margaret falls in love with and marries Neil Currie (Clive Russell), at least in part because he has quit mining work for good. Neil is a giant of a man who incessantly plays the bagpipes, speaks in the Gaelic dialect, drinks a lot, and composes traditional tunes. Of course with all the emphasis on Neil staying out of the mines you just know that he will eventually go back to work there. There is a coming of age side story about Margaret's younger brother Jimmy (Craig Olejnik), but it is given too little emphasis to be much of a factor. It does introduce a bit of irony as Jimmy is expected to be the family member who breaks the mold and escapes, but his first love makes him reluctant to leave the town for better things.
Kate Nelligan plays Margaret's deservedly fatalistic mother and creates a complex character. Watch how this hardened woman occasionally exhibits a ray of optimism and even a slight bit of hope for her daughter.
The title refers to Margaret's "Cost of Coal" museum which she opens as an expression righteous indignation. The museum sequences bookend the main story (told in a long flashback).
If not on the perfection level of "New Waterford Girl", the fine performances and the excellent production design make "Margaret's Museum" well worth watching.
Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.
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It was not clear on youre site that this DVD is only playable on European players