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R.I.P. August Schellenberg (1936 – 2013)

by on 2013/08/16

August Schellenberg

I was saddened tonight to learn of the death of Canadian actor August Schellenberg. He’s shown up in a number of recent selections, and has proven a true stand-out player.

When I first noticed him in 45 rpm, he seemed oddly familiar to me. Checking out his accomplishments, it’s impossible to say where I might have seen him. He’s appeared in pieces as far-ranging as Black Robe and Free Willy, to say nothing of his many TV credits.

A Metis actor of Swiss and Mohawk descent, he is best known for embodying Sitting Bull several times. To me, however, he seemed less “legendary” and rather the most human aspect in his various movies: gentle, compassionate, sympathetic, and hilarious, much as I’d imagine a favourite uncle or grandfather.

While we haven’t (yet) reviewed his best-known features on our site, we’ve done a few already, and have two more lined up in the coming months. I have little doubt he’ll prove as human and compelling in those efforts. Here’s a brief survey, looking back and ahead, to celebrate his legacy.

Canada - A People's HistoryCanada: A People’s History (2000)
ETA September 2013

A retrospective look at Canada, from the dawn of time to modern days, this CBC production reenacts our history. We’ll take a look at it in September’s “back-to-school” documentaries.

The videos can get a bit pricey but, with luck, you may find it in a bargain bin, in full sets for a can’t-miss price.

Death Hunt (1981)Death Hunt (1981)
by Hacker Renders on 2013/06/06

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Death Hunt is an account of “The Mad Trapper”, Albert Johnson, one so fictionalized it’s a wonder they dared to sell it as ‘based on a true story’. In fact, it resembles nothing so much as Sylvester Stallone’s First Blood…”

45 RPM (2008)45 rpm (2008)
by Hacker Renders on 2013/02/06

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“Not a film for the blockbuster set, those who need immanent justice served, or demand a happy Hollywood ending. It may not lack for confusion and angst, with its have-nots, unrequited crushes, intolerance, and suffocation, but it’s also an experience which could actually change a viewer’s life for the better. It’s achingly painful at times, yet it never abandons hope.”

Going the Distance (2004)Going the Distance (2004)
by Hacker Renders on 2013/04/06

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“It’s surprisingly slick for what might otherwise pass as a direct-to-video quickie, an American-feeling take on Canadiana . . . It tries to be most things to most viewers and . . . damn if it doesn’t succeed.

“The ‘bad guy’ – played by August Schellenberg of 45 rpm – is unusually sympathetic. Crazy, yes, but somehow endearingly pitiable.”

The Unsaid (2001)The Unsaid (2001)
ETA Q1 2014

A direct-to-video drama which has won some acclaim and a limited release, The Unsaid involves themes of mental illness and suicide.

I don’t know much more about it, except that it features an appealing cast and, as it’s a thriller, I’m probably best not knowing any more.

Honourable Mention: Heavy Metal (1981)Heavy Metal (1981)
by Grushenka Geusebach on 2013/01/14

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“For the uninitiated among you, it is all rather like the sketches you’d find on the English binder of a sociopathic high school boy made into a moving picture. Zombie soldiers, super villains with long fingernails, nude mudflap lady-shaped women, giant bats, elephant-nosed aliens, warrior women in thongs holding great swords aloft.”

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