Watch I Heard the Owl Call My Name
- 1 hr 18 min
In the movie I Heard the Owl Call My Name, directed by Daryl Duke and released in 1973, we follow the story of a young and inexperienced Anglican priest named Mark Brian, played by Tom Courtenay. Mark is sent by his bishop to a remote First Nations village on the west coast of Canada, where he is to take charge of the small parish there.
The movie is based on the novel of the same name by Margaret Craven, which was inspired by her experiences living among the Kwakwaka'wakw people in British Columbia. The story explores themes of culture clash, faith, and the cycle of life and death.
Upon arriving in the village, Mark is met with suspicion and resistance from the indigenous community, who are hesitant to open up to a white outsider. However, Mark is dedicated to his calling and sets out to learn about the Kwakwaka'wakw people and their ways of life. This process is not easy, as there are many cultural barriers to overcome, but Mark manages to build relationships with some of the villagers, including the wise and elderly Marta (played by American actor Dean Jagger) and the charismatic and rebellious Jim Wallace (played by Paul Stanley).
As Mark becomes more integrated into the community, he begins to discover some uncomfortable truths about their way of life. For example, he learns about their struggles with poverty, alcoholism, and tuberculosis - all of which have been compounded by the effects of colonialism and residential schools. Furthermore, he becomes aware of the villagers' deep connection to the natural world and their spiritual beliefs, which are often at odds with his own Christian theology.
Despite these challenges, Mark forms a deep bond with the community and comes to understand and respect their way of life. In particular, he becomes fascinated by the villagers' concept of time and their practice of recognizing the cyclical patterns of nature. This culminates in a moment when Mark hears an owl calling his name - a symbol of death in Kwakwaka'wakw culture - and he begins to contemplate his own mortality and the fleeting nature of life.
Tom Courtenay gives a understated but powerful performance as Mark Brian, portraying him as a compassionate and humble man who is deeply committed to his faith. Dean Jagger is also excellent as Marta, capturing both her sharp wit and her deep knowledge of the natural world. Paul Stanley brings a youthful energy to the role of Jim Wallace, who serves as a representative of the modern world and its challenges.
The cinematography and location work in the movie are also noteworthy. Much of the film was shot on location in the village of Alert Bay, providing an authentic backdrop for the story. The camera lingers on the stunning natural beauty of the region, from the lush rainforest to the rugged coastline, creating a strong sense of place and atmosphere.
Overall, I Heard the Owl Call My Name is a poignant and thought-provoking movie that explores complex themes with sensitivity and insight. It offers a rare glimpse into the beauty and struggles of First Nations life in Canada, and it resonates with viewers long after the credits have rolled.