November 12, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 41  

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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Unfinished business:
McKenna's Korean War doc

Galafilm Productions Inc./2003
BOY, BRIAN MCKENNA SURE IS HAPPY... which is weird considering the fact his latest documentary was relegated to a crappy time slot on TVO.

Attention retarded advertisers: place your ad here! This advice may seem a bit harsh, but the details speak for themselves.

First, Korea: The Unfinished War is a documentary. Second, it premiered on TVO. Third, it was four hours long and started at 8 p.m., thus ending at midnight. On a Sunday. Bang! A bulls-eye on every anti-viewer target possible.

The boring subject matter, terrible time slot, unpopular channel and ridiculous length all ensured an easy night for the Neilson rating machine, which I guarantee was more idle than Cher’s botoxed eyebrows.

Insults to TVO’s ratings aside, the film, which is being repeated in one hour segments this week, isn’t all that bad. For those without the slightest knowledge of history, this film will provide you with some understanding of the subject.

Canada’s own Brian McKenna, who boasts a hat-trick of writing, directing and narrating credits made the long documentary intersting.

For those of you born after 1940 and therefore unlikely to be familiar with the works of McKenna, let me fill you in. For many years, he has chronicled numerous significant events in Canada’s history, most recently another four-hour docudrama entitled War of 1812. He’s also spent 12 years at CBC’s The Fifth Estate, which earned him many awards and critical acclaim.

In any case, the Korea documentary combined original footage, interviews with survivors and reenactments to tell the story of “the unfinished war” and its many aspects, from propaganda to alleged germ warfare.

Some stories were heartbreaking; others, grotesquely funny. In one of the film’s best clips, a veteran reminisces about a friend who managed to stay alive for the better part of an hour despite having the back of his head blown off by gun-fire. Tasty.

Oh, and please don’t forget: TVO operates from the support of viewers like you. So while it may be long, that means you should tune in, people; because they’re going to need all the help they can get.

—Arthur Thuot

The third hour of Korea: The Unfinished War airs tonight on TVO at 10 p.m.. The documentary concludes tomorrow night at 10 p.m..

 

 

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