Illustration by Rupert Bottenberg

Site menu:


Site search




Polytechnique, by Denis Villeneuve (in The Walrus)

Montreal filmmaker Denis Villeneuve brings the Polytechnique massacre to the screen

Twenty years ago this December, as they finished up their last week of classes before the Christmas break, fourteen young women at Montreal’s École Polytechnique were killed by twenty-five-year-old Marc Lépine, who entered the school with a semi-automatic machine gun sheathed in a garbage bag, and went on a nineteen-minute shooting spree before turning his weapon on himself.

Our shared memories of December 6, 1989, are mostly related to the crime scene as it was shown on the evening news: the ambulances and police vehicles parked on the snowy bank beside the school, sirens flashing; the sobbing parents as they arrived on the scene; and the terrified students as they exited the building, shivering in their T-shirts. But our knowledge of what happened that day has always been limited, as though the locked doors of the institution, sealed with crime scene tape, served not only to hide the bodies from view, but to shield us from the traumatic realities of Lépine’s murderous rage. Read article