John Walker's Passage

John Walker's Passage

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By Darrell Varga
Canadian Cinema
University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division © 2012
World Rights
152 Pages 15 Images
ISBN 9781442614192
Published Aug 2012
Online discount: 20%
 $17.95    $14.36
ISBN 9781442646087
Published Aug 2012
Online discount: 30%
 $46.95    $32.87
ebook (EPUB format)
ISBN 9781442664395
Published Aug 2012
Online discount: 29%
Full purchase $16.95

John Walker is one of Canada's most prolific and important documentary filmmakers and is known for his many thoughtful, personally inflected films. His masterwork, Passage, centres on Sir John Franklin's failed expedition to find the final link of the Northwest Passage connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans through the Canadian Arctic. It also gives us the story of John Rae, the Scottish explorer who discovered the fate of Franklin and the final link in the passage, but was left to the margins of history. Walker's film brings to this story a layering of dramatic action and behind-the-scenes documentary footage that build tension between the story of the past and interpretations of the present.

Darrell Varga provides a close analysis of Passage, situating it within Walker's rich body of work and the Canadian documentary tradition. Varga illuminates how the film can be viewed through the lens of Harold Innis's theories of communication and culture, opening up the work of this great Canadian political economist to film studies.

Darrell Varga is a filmmaker and educator living in Halifax. He holds a Canada Research Chair Award in Film Studies.



1 The Filmmaker 

2 Early Films and Shifting Aesthetics 

3 Passage: The Film 

4 Discovering Innis 

Production Credits 


Annotated John Walker Filmography 

Related Viewing 


Selected Bibliography 

Passage Distribution 


‘John Walker’s Passage makes a valuable contribution to contemporary film studies, reflecting on the definitive work of one of Canada’s finest documentary film makers… Passage weaves together documentary and drama to delve deeper into the complex nature of truth, history, and representation.’

Matthew Tegelberg, Canadian Journal of Communication, vol 38:03:2013