Blu-Ray Rating: ****

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Read Jennie Kermode's film review of Polytechnique

Denis Villeneuve's dramatisation of the 1989 Montreal massacre was released earlier this month by the BFI on Blu-ray and will be available to download from December 21.

Included with the release is Polytechnic: What remains of 6 December (Polytechnique: Ce qu'il reste du 6 décembre), a testimonial-driven documentary that was made by Judith Plamondon in 2019, 30 years on from Marc Lépine's shooting spree.

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Plamondon lets witnesses, survivors, victims' families and media commentators recount the story in their own words as they, like the Villeneuve dramatisation, consider the misogynistic elements of the killing. The film's simple talking heads format - bolstered at key moments by archive footage and clips from Polytechnique - allows the power of what's being said to come across without unnecessary embellishment. A sense of the collective responsibility and mourning associated with the event gradually emerges. The documentary is narrated by Karine Vanasse, who instigated Villeneuve's adaptation and co-starred in it.

The blu-ray package is rounded out by the trailer and a booklet that is of the high quality you would expect of a BFI release, featuring a forward by Villeneuve, alongside a personal essay by Vanasse. Additional essays are provided by critics Jessica Kiang and Justine Smith, with the former taking a deep dive into Polytechnique and the latter considering the use of the elements across Villeneuve's work. Plamondon's director's statement is also included.

Reviewed on: 18 Dec 2020
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Polytechnique packshot
Multi-textual examination of a mass-murder
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Product Code: BFIB1407

Region: B

Ratio: Main feature: 2.35:1; documentary: 1.78:1

Sound: Main feature: Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0; documentary Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo

Extras: Polytechnic: What remains of 6 December, trailer, Illustrated booklet with a Foreword by Denis Villeneuve, essays by Jessica Kiang, Karine Vanasse and Justine Smith (first pressing only)

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