User Reviews (20)

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  • Without a doubt, one of the more realistically shocking and provocative films I have ever seen. One of the most important "lost" independent films ever. Definitely ranks in the top 5 best Canadian films ever.

    I don't want to describe it too much, because it is best viewed with virgin eyes - no expectations.

    The short summary is that a logging company has gone too far with its clear-cutting of the great Canadian woods, now subject to native Indian terror attacks against the loggers. A nebbish Toronto lawyer gets involved in the case, and meets a mysterious Indian (the always wonderful and most talented Graham Greene). What follows is a harrowing and devastating journey not only into the ancient woods of Canada, but into the darkest recesses of the human soul. Anger, rage, revenge, violence, redemption, tolerance, and ECOLOGY - all words to describe the feelings and attitudes of this shocking film. A definite MUST SEE! - unfortunately though, this is one of the rarest films made in the last 20 years. Never shown on TV, and pretty much unavailable on VHS (forget DVD, at least as far as I know it was never released on disc). Best chance is to pick it up in Canada at an art-house vid store. If you do ever see the box, don't miss the chance, rent it! Clearcut is proof that cinema is and always should be, the leading art form of our society. Films like this challenge, provoke, and serve as catharses. They have a purpose, and it is more than just to entertain. I was 16 when I saw it, and it changed my view of the world, in a positive way. It made me aware of issues while helping me explore the human psyche. Probably one of the few R rated films I would recommend that young people view (supervised of course) - it might actually enlighten them on issues of violence and rage in society.

    WATCH CLEARCUT BY ALL MEANS!

    SUPPORT Canadian CINEMA!! It should be so much better and richer than what it is - what is wrong with Canucks? Egoyan, Arcand, Jewison and Cronenberg cannot be the only popular cinema talents in one of the greatest countries on earth?!
  • At the start of this film, it seems to be expressing anger about encroaching on native lands and environmental destruction. Soon it is evident it is about the outrage itself - and at what stave that it becomes unacceptable as it ventures into violence. This film is even more relevant now than when it was released, given the violence in the WTO protests.

    You are never sure if Arthur is human, a god, or some vengeful spirit. The way he enters and exits the film keeps this a mystery.

    Although it has its faults, a very provocative film.
  • I have searched in vain for a copy of this movie for years. This story attempts to have the viewer identify with the frustration that Native Americans must feel with the casual and continual injustice by a system that is stacked against their interests.

    I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. It is creative, extremely well told and does not follow any typical mainstream formula. This movie takes you on a journey of Arthur's frustration and his tactics of dealing with those feelings. It is an unpredictable and thoroughly enjoyable movie experience.

    It is a shame that this movie is so difficult to find.
  • rickinfla5 December 2008
    I saw this movie in the early 90's and thought it was a good. The Scene of Graham Greene skinning the strip mine owners' leg was haunting. I'm a fan of Graham in many of his TV and movie appearances from Thunder Heart to Red Green Show. I wish I could buy this on DVD and in July I contacted HTTP://www.northernartsentertainment.com Larry Jackson and he wrote me saying Northern Arts Entertainment was thinking of Releasing the movie on there web site as a download that you can burn to a DVD and print art work and make your own DVD of it. Larry said it would be on the HTTP://www.iarthouse.com/ in August of 2008. Sadly it has not shown up and Larry no longer answers my emails. Maybe if others who want to have this on DVD you can go to the iarthouse site and call the 1800 number 1800-811-4515 and mention that you would like to see the Clear cut on the site or ask to speak to Larry.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I've seen reviews by 'critics' who hated it, hated Graham Greene's character, etc. They don't like it because he's not the happy-go-lucky smiling injun they want to see. It's obvious Arthur is not human, but a personification, or materialization, of Peter's sweatlodge vision. "You dreamed anger, and your anger is real"...and it's taken on a life of it's own. When his work is done, when he's taught Peter to take more than a passive stance, he returns to his world. But you also see that spirit is going to be carried into future generations by the precocious Polly, the little girl at the beginning and end of the film. I love Budd's babbling once pain/infection/delirium takes place. And I hope his ordeal has taught him a thing or two about his cavalier destruction of not only the land, but aboriginal rights and greed.
  • startpointprod22 October 2005
    Yes, I give this movie a 10, and it's definitely worth it. This film should be required viewing, not only for film students, but for anyone dealing with the current social problems affecting the native population. This is a film you want to watch... I mean WATCH with every fiber of your being... it is food for the brain to be sure. In the end, I think you take away what you put into this one, and will come away with a new found respect for the acting talents of Graham Greene. The writing, while perhaps a bit obtuse for some viewers goes a long way to getting the point across... but I won't tell you what that is, you must see this one yourself. Perhaps all I can say is it puts into perspective the spiritual force that lies just below the surface in us all. Wrong will never be right, and no matter what mask it wears, in the end Kharma will win out. Ya gotta see this one... really!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This is an incredible film from start to finish. This is one of the rare films that complement the book, M.T. Kelly's "A Dream Like Mine" perfectly. My wife and I have watched the movie several times and read the book as well. We have concluded that Arthur does not exist as a "real" being in the story but a construct of Peter's due to his rage at losing his battle in court (or rage at his cause being lost as a writer in the book). In Ojibwe stories there are spirits that are normally powerless that can be induced to possess a person to give them short lived power. With the spirit the recipient had great powers of vengeance in exchange for their souls. In the stories this would be what happens to a warrior who comes home to find his village destroyed by another tribe. He would be possessed and become an avenging monster. When talking of Arthur, Wilf refers to him as 'coming from the east' and 'not being from us' which seems to imply that it is Peter that brings the avenging spirit. In the book the clincher is that as Peter is being arrested the mill owner denies there ever being an Arthur at all and that Peter was responsible for the kidnapping.
  • Arthur is the spirit-guide Peter McGuire finds during his sweat-lodge vision; a water-spirit who becomes the personification of McGuire's own anger. If you don't believe me on this, pay attention to the water shots (starting with the opening shot of the movie), the sweat-lodge sequence, and listen carefully to almost everything Wilf says. Once you understand what Arthur is, you can see that the primary themes explored are (1) talk vs. action, and (2) if you cannot control your anger, your anger will control you. I found Ron Lea a bit too wimpy to carry off the final scene, but overall, this is a very thought-provoking movie, which I recommend to anyone who likes to think.
  • opaka5 January 2003
    It was (is) a very well made and especially played movie. I think it's way too underrated and you can't find a copy of it on DVD and hardly on VHS which proves that mainstream shows are and always gonna be more "important". Just look at the fact that you can buy EVERY episode of "Buffy..." but you can't find ONE copy of this movie. Sad.

    Waiting.

    If you like native themed movies check this out. It worth it.
  • Istvan Kolnhofer is quite correct when he says this is "One of the most important "lost" independent films ever".

    I have little to add to the other reviewers other than this film is right on my top shelf next to _Fight Club_ and _Aguirre_ and there it stays.

    This can be called a horror flick in its truest form - gnawing dread permeates throughout. But don't expect a splatter-fest - it's not. This is low budget indie at its absolute best. Lack of budget is more than compensated by superb scripting and performance. This is what really sets it head and shoulders above the "stream of consciousness" indie crap that continually oozes out of the film festivals.

    Despite it's age, it is as pertinent as ever and stands up to regular repeat viewing. If you ever get a chance to see it, do so - but also note, the less you actually know about this film, the greater your experience will be. Definite keeper.
  • cnewf18 November 2006
    The ten-star folks before me have it right: this is a must-see movie. It goes to the psychological heart of the political paralysis of Western societies today, and to their willingness to pay no attention to whom they screw over, only to wake up surprised that it has all gone wrong. Peter the Toronto cause lawyer is a great image of the white progressive who supports Native causes without actually siding with them, and the film beautifully illustrates what happens when he loses his power to exist in this in-between position. "Deb" is right that the core statement is "you dreamed anger, and your anger is real." If you are angry about how, in Peter's immortal words, "the world has turned to sh-t," will letting your anger emerge then allow you to act, or encourage you to let the usual others act for you? What are you doing, if your anger is real? I will stop before I give anything away, and will end with a plea to the distributor to release this important film in DVD, and drop the VHS price below CA$55.00.
  • barb_10729 January 2006
    I have seen this movie. I love it. I would recommend this movie to anyone I love Graham Greene he is a great actor. I am 1/4 Chiricahua Apache. i love all native American music, movies. Also u need to watch Graham Greene's other movies like Skins, Dances with Wolves & others. They are all good movies. Speaking of Dances with Wolves someday when my husband & I have our native wedding i am going to be married in my People's colors. I think that would be so cool. Another Good movie of Graham's is Eductaion of Little Tree that was great too. I Have never seen Graham in a bad movie. To me he brings life to the character he is playing no matter if it is a comedy or a drama.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Given the opening scene of "something" coming up out of the depths of a lake and the ending in the water (and the seemingly supernatural powers of the Indian), it seems pretty clear that the Graham Greene character is meant to be some sort of avenging spirit or demon, not a human being.
  • Like most Canadians, I tend to shy away from viewing Canadian-made movies, especially if they deal with First People's issues. ("Oh no! Not another one of those".) But CLEARCUT came highly recommended by a friend who is really into intensely horrific stories.

    It starts off looking like something we've all seen before with a band of Native North Americans squaring off against the "cruel white logging company". It then takes a neat turn about twenty minutes in when our main protagonist sits in on a sauna session-ritual with some Native elders in a teepee. It is his bloody fever dream within the dark steamy enclosure that begins to set the tone for the rest of the film. And what a film! Righteous "psycho" Native, Arthur (effectively played by Graham Greene) kidnaps our main hero who is a lawyer representing the protesters along with the nasty head of the logging company. Arthur then forces the two on a grueling journey through the forests with the sole aim of vengefully torturing them into seeing things from the native perspective. Relentlessly paced, full of twists and turns and its share of bloody gore, the film pulls no punches.

    It is smartly adapted by screenwriter Rob Forsyth, nicely shot by Francois Protat and well acted by Ron Lea with moody music by Shane Harvey. Although purely a dramatic work, it plays out like an old Indian legend and a sick stalker flick. Let me finally state that you don't have to be into Native issues to like this film. It works on many levels and is simply a really excellent entertaining movie!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This great movie which I first saw in the early 90's was recorded in Red Rock, which is 110 km north-east of Thunder Bay, or 1300 km north- west of Toronto. Red Rock is located at the very northern tip of Lake Superior, in Nipigon Bay in Ontario.

    I found this movie extremely well made with it's story including sweat-lodges spiritual visions, graphic vengeful violence set far away in a country of forests and lakes, between Lake Superior and Nipigon Lake obviously, in other words far enough for someone to skin somebody alive where nobody will hear him scream... Arthur not only embodies Peter Maguire's anger but the spirit of the natives of that part of the world and their frustration at white people logging enterprises that destroy the forest and encroach on their land.

    This movie is not for the faint of heart. When Arthur disappears under water at the end of the movie you know he didn't die drowning because you see his medallion at the neck of the cute little Indian girl Paulie afterward...

    A definite must-see for those who are nature lovers like me.
  • This film was worth a 7 to me because I loved how Arthur threw his weight around with Peter and Bud. Arthur only behaved that way with them because he needed to teach a very valuable lesson on how nature can never be tampered with. Obviously Bud and Peter never saw it that way nor did they see things from the Native perspective the way Arthur did. Since Bud never cared one way or another what happened to the trees because he was the papermill manager. He only cared about profiting from those trees so he needed them to be cut down. Peter's problem was that he was trying to take both sides of the issue to try and please Arthur and Bud. Since Peter was a lawyer it was his intuition to see things from all sides. Although the Natives lost the court case, Peter however did try and smooth things out and ease the tension for everyone involved and for that, I give him credit.

    But it was from Arthur's viewpoint that makes this film so cool. The important lesson needed to be taught to the other 2 men. Since Arthur rightfully committed those acts of violence towards Bud, Peter and those police officers because that was really the only way the situation was to be handled. If Arthur was just a regular human, he may have put up a fight but I don't think he would have gotten away with the things he did. He just would have been arrested and put away as "just another Indian who's only place is in jail". Ironically enough, Bud and Peter were arrested by police at the end of the film. Wow, what wrong have they done to society?? LOL The 2 men felt like THEY were the victims of the whole ordeal, not Arthur! LOL

    Well............ anyways............ thanks for allowing me the time to review on this film as well. Take care. ;)
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Clearcut is adapted from M. T. Kelly's novel "A Dream Like Mine" Though I'm not familiar with the novel I can tell this movie is a timeless masterpiece! Best to see without any expectations and without reading any spoilers. if You are interested about Native American situation seen from Native American perspective.

    Canada 1990 loggers vs Native Americans or 2016 Standing Rock Protest #NODAPL oilers vs Native Americans. Profit vs clean nature. In what extent the state acknowledges indigenous rights? How far is a person's mind willing to go witnessing such drama on indigenous rights and on conserving our nature.

    Perfect acting from all: Graham Greene (Dances with the Wolves), Michael Hogan (Battlestar Galactica), Ron Lea (Clearcut) and of course grand old man Floyd Red Crow Westerman (Dances with the Wolves)

    'contains spoilers' It's a spiritual journey of western minded big-city lawyer Peter Maguire (Ron Lea). He arrives to witness a bloody battle between the police and the Indians, who are trying to prevent the company's logging trucks from entering their territory.

    Peter understands the hopeless case of his client and as a gesture of solidarity takes part in native sweat lodge ceremony. All that follows after that may be most probably his hallucination. However if you are watching this movie first time, unspoiled, it draws you deeply in alongside Peter's spiritual journey. Arthur may be actually an Indian trickster spirit conjured into human form by Peter's anger. Also known as Wisakedjak (Wisakedjak in Algonquin, Wihsakecahkw in Cree and Wiisagejaak in Oji-cree), he is the same bloodthirsty spirit who is described to Peter during the sweat lodge ceremony by Wilf (Floyd Red Crow Westerman), the tribe's wise, long-suffering chief.

    Peter becomes a reluctant accessory to kidnapping when Arthur grabs the mill's manager, Bud Rickets (Michael Hogan) and takes him hostage. All that follows is desperate struggle through beautiful but harsh nature for western antagonists survival body and mind.

    Keep in mind that natives are already lost, nature has already lost. Our western spirit is sold and therefore lost. What remains there are only native spirits would act only when called upon in sweat lodge ceremony. And how many of us are addressing them nowadays?

    Sad to see how much have we already lost. What have we gained?
  • First of all, I'd like to make a shout out to IMDb: The main characters of this movie are 1.) Graham Greene 2.)Ron Lea 3.) Floyd Red Crow Westerman and bringing up the rear, Michael Hogan. (Please edit the movie's page accordingly). This was an excellent and unforgettable movie, especially to those of us who appreciate and respect the soul of Mother Earth. Graham Greene provides the character of the Earthly guide we would all like to meet.., and then become. The spiritual instruction I got from this movie was great: Find your power. Embrace your earthly existence (including death). Respect life. Two profound moments stick out for me in Clearcut: One is when the three men, Greene, Lea and Hogan, are deep in the northern wilderness, at night, as wolves howl. Greene (Arthur) turns to Hogan (who is playing the part of an abducted, callous, arrogant lumber mill owner) and says, "Those are your trees. They are wailing." Arthur's love for the land is obvious, and has accepted his role as warrior. Something we can all learn from.

    The other moment that stands out for me is when Arthur is trying to explain "oral tradition" to timid lawyer played by Ron Lea. He takes a small snake out of a bag and assertively bites its head off. "That's oral tradition". he says.

    The immediacy and vitality of the Native American oral tradition is expressed therein, without words. I could not give this movie a 9 rating because of the receding, reluctant, stubborn and stunted character of Peter Maguire, played by Ron Lea: What could have been a powerful statement for individual bravery, transformation, expansion and catharsis became, instead more of a debate of cultures.

    The sweat lodge ceremony should have been the awakening of Maguire's personal soul power. Unfortunately, all he got from it were a few unrelated, nebulous images that flashed through his head a couple of times in the movie, usually of some substance (blood?) dripping on a rock.

    It's pretty obvious that the movie's producer did not want Clearcut to be an unabashed statement for environmental preservation and activism, the way a couple of Steven Segal's films were. Even the title, "Clearcut" says to me that they wanted to frame the movie in non-Native American terms.

    Honestly, I have not heard so much whining from one character since Lorraine Bracco's character in Medicine Man. If I had been Arthur, I would have killed Maguire first, just to get him to shut up.

    None of this, not even the brazen, disrespectful lines given to Bud Rickets (the lumber mill owner), or the fact that they wrote him to survive the ordeal, takes anything away from the stunningly-powerful and eminently-valuable performance by Graham Greene, though.

    If you are somewhat feeling powerless and want to do something different with your life, to break free of how you see and do things, watch this movie. Greene and Red Crow will not disappoint.
  • Admirers of Graham Greene are in for a real shock with "Clearcut". This is not the lovable Indian character that you are used to seeing Greene playing. When the Native Americans lose in court trying to stop a logging company from cutting trees, Greene resorts to kidnapping and murder. This is an ecological revenge story gone terribly wrong. His method of influencing the owner of the logging company turns proactive, with sadistic torture replacing reason. I'm sure the intent of the writers was to send some sort of sympathetic ecological message, but the screenplay misfires badly if that was what they hoped, and any sympathy clearly lies with the captives. Be prepared for an unrelenting trek through the wilderness, with Greene dishing out liberal doses of sadism. Shockingly entertaining. - MERK
  • I found the movie hard to follow. At the end, I didn't know what the message was suppose to be; what was the plot? Was anything accomplished during the story? If this was supposed to be about spiritual matters, Graham Green's talents were better put to use in "Dancing with Wolves" and "Thunderheart".