"Old rules don't apply anymore, but we forgot to make new ones."
Simply put, this line out of The End of the Road is what happened to a group of American draft dodgers and a few Canadians when they decided to get away from everything and go off the grid. Tai Uhlmann and Theo Angell co-directed this wonderful documentary capturing the stories of hippies as they arrived in Lund to start a new life for themselves.
The film is rich in texture, compelling to watch, funny and yet insightful. The timing of the creation of the film (pre-Trump era) now begs comparison between the political and social climate of the late 60s and early 70s in the United States with the current state of affairs of people wanting to come to Canada.
Many of the people who travelled to Lund in the 60s and 70s were fleeing the draft for the Vietnam War, the establishment becoming more and more rule oppressive, Nixon, Watergate and the shooting of four students at Kent State University.
While this was happening there grew a movement of freedom and liberal expression. Woodstock, weed, Dylan, Rochdale, rock and roll, sex, LSD, protests and hitchhiking all allowed the hippies to express themselves, their views, wishes and desires through their lifestyles. This truly was the era of sex, drugs and rock and roll.
Uhlmann and Angell, through their own childhood experiences (Uhlmann growing up in Lund as a child of hippy parents and Angell having no television in the house he grew up in) have gathered stories, old photos, film clips and modern day interviews from those who went to Lund, their children as adults today and with some local fishermen and loggers to create a film about self-discovery, freedom and challenges.
This documentary is a breath of fresh air, telling the story of how people came together in the middle of nowhere and created community through hard work, innovation, laughter, music and dance. The stories of many families, including but not limited to, the Macfrontons, Marxes, Tylers, Friedmans, Uhlmanns and Behrs are compelling as they share with us their journey going from young hippies to middle-age folk and entering their senior years.
We learn about the human condition and its emotions as it progresses from dreams to realness, free love and laughter to jealousy and financial realities.
Uhlmann and Angell, through their strong and creative editing combining the past with the present, the humour with the tensions, have treated all of us to a wonderful look into the 60s/70s and a movement creating a unique convergence of ideals.
This documentary will make you laugh and reminisce; for this I give it four out of five tugboats.
The End of the Road will be airing on CBC, Saturday, August 4, at 7 pm.
Stephen J. Miller is a producer and creative writer in feature films and television, and past owner of repertoire movie theatres.