Western Lights

A Perfect Coming of Age Education Film!

I had someone ask me what my favorite 90s movie was this week. At the beginning of this project I talked about a film called ‘Western Lights.” Upon rereading the review I wrote at the time I realized that most all I said was that the picture quality was bad and someone should really crowd source a restoration of it. It just occurred to me now that I barely talked about the actual film itself! It really deserves a better review than I gave at the time especially since I rank it so high.

The movie is about a group of boys from a French experimental school who set out on an expedition across the Atlantic Ocean to Central and South America. While there were adults on the ship the way it is shot you almost completely forget they are there. There are similar shows where the grow-ups play a heavy role and includes extensive narration over what the kids are doing. I like Western Lights a lot more because Instead of it being about the adults’ expertise you see the students’ journey entirely through the wonder of youth. You really feel they are in charge of the voyage (though it is a little hard to tell how much they do completely on their own.) They ask questions to those they meet along the way who live in the lands they visit and go over their findings with each other about what they have just learned on their adventure.
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It has fantastic scenery and a great score too. The DVD (and VHS) is hard to come across as it is often out of print. Most of it is on YouTube but a few of the chapters are missing. I picked up a rental copy at my local video store Scarecrow Video. If you still have a video store and it has a decent foreign section they may have this title too. Highly recommend pick up!