written by David Caneppa
edited by Koushik Paul
Polytechnique is an independent film based on the 1989 massacre at Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal. The film does go on record to explain that the characters mostly are fictionalized to respect and protect those who survived the massacre. The film took the unique approach of completely being in black and white.
The film opens with a scene taking place during the shooting of one of the main characters. The following scene introduces the audience to the shooter who is shown preparing for the massacre. As he is preparing his arsenal, what apparently was written in the real-life suicide note of the shooter is being paraphrased throughout the scene. As the film continues, we see what took place during the event through the point of views the lead character: Valerie.
Valerie contends with living in a stereotypical world as she pursues a career in aeronautics but during an interviewed is asked why her interest in a career that could prevent her from having a family or more specifically having children. Her character contends with the stereotypical image of woman throughout the film in a variety of ways, but her character can be seen to persevere against this, even after her encounter with the shooter. Although we see that Valerie and other female characters in the film have worked/are working hard to succeed in their schooling or careers, the shooter believes the opposite of what we see as an audience. The shooter believes that women get more advantages than men and he considers every woman a feminist. She is one of the many women in the film that does get shot, however, after pretending to be dead while the shooter was walking around the classroom, she survives; she later commits suicide.
In the closing moments of the film, it is revealed that she achieved her goal in working in the aeronautics field while at the same time finding out she is now pregnant. Once she realizes she is pregnant, she is seen writing a letter, later revealed to be to the shooter’s mother. She goes on to say that she has only felt true fear twice in her life: the first being the shooting and the second being her current pregnancy. She explains that although they do not know each other, they are connected; that her son opened her eyes to how much hate there is in the world and how he is free but she is not. She ends the letter by saying if she has a boy, she will teach him to how to love; if a girl, she will tell her the world is hers.
The film does have the impact in delivering what happened on that tragic night. The film does a good job showing the impact of that tragic night. As someone who watches films based on true events, it would have been beneficial to get more backstory of the shooter to reveal the origins of his motives as well as some more details about his life. Overall, this film is definitely worth watching. Its method of delivery and impact is what makes this film quite extraordinary.