The National Film Board of Canada was founded in 1939 in part as a way to distribute World War II propaganda throughout the Great White North, but went on to become a bastion for experimental animation, “socially relevant documentaries” and other film projects “which provoke discussion and debate on subjects of interest to Canadian audiences and foreign markets.” In particular the NFB is known for producing some of the dreamiest nature documentaries of modern times — it’s where Boards of Canada got their name and a lot of their soft-focus naturalist vibes. And now the NFB has started posting their library of films online.
A lot of these docs are wordless montages of natural imagery accompanied by droning Eno/Tangerine Dream-style synthesizer soundtracks — our favorite so far is William Canning’s 26-minute short Temples of Time (1971), described by the NFB as follows:
A mountain is a living thing; it has an ecological balance, a process of evolution manifested in slow, subtle ways; but it is also subject to the ravages of human intervention. Filmed in the Canadian Rockies and in Garibaldi Park, this picture brings to the screen magnificent footage of mountain solitudes and the wildlife found there, of natural splendor in all its changing moods. The film carries the implicit warning that all this may pass away if people do not seek to preserve it.
Hook your computer up to your stereo for the full effect of Edward Kalehoff’s warbling synth drone soundtrack. Who needs to figure out the whole new digital TV upgrade chip whatever thing when we’ve got this treasure trove to explore? More to come …
Note: The NFB’s online library is brand new and still a little wonky from time to time. If the embedded Temples of Time isn’t working for you, go here to watch it on the NFB site.