It’s at the end of the film, after the killer shoots himself and the blood from his head meets with the blood pooling from yet another woman he has killed, that the impact this event has had on society begins to resonate.
The event, the massacre of 14 women by 25-year-old Marc Lépine at the École Polytechnique on Dec. 6, 1989, would turn a population upside down and forever link Lépine’s hatred with the pain of the victims’ families and the debate about the status of women in Quebec, and the rest of Canada.
The unease with which Quebecers have approached the event ever since then continues to this day, nearly 20 years later, as a new film, Polytechnique, gets set to open in theatres here on Friday.
Predictably, there has been controversy about its release. On Internet forums and in newspapers, some wonder why the filmmakers would dredge up such a painful piece of history. Some have complained that the movie’s trailers have sensationalized the events.
But those who have seen the $6 million film’s previews say it’s highly emotive, not exploitive.
“I was very scared to go watch it,” said Melissa Blais, a doctorate student in sociology at the University of Quebec at Montreal who’s been studying the massacre since 2004. “But they succeeded, I believe.”