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Nanook of the North

( 2 )

Overview

Nanook of the North is regarded as the first significant nonfiction feature, made in the days before the term "documentary" had even been coined. Filmmaker Robert Flaherty had lived among the Eskimos in Canada for many years as a prospector and explorer, and he had shot some footage of them on an informal basis before he decided to make a more formal record of their daily lives. Financing was provided by Revillion Freres, a French fur company with an outpost on the shores of Hudson Bay. Filming took place between...
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Overview

Nanook of the North is regarded as the first significant nonfiction feature, made in the days before the term "documentary" had even been coined. Filmmaker Robert Flaherty had lived among the Eskimos in Canada for many years as a prospector and explorer, and he had shot some footage of them on an informal basis before he decided to make a more formal record of their daily lives. Financing was provided by Revillion Freres, a French fur company with an outpost on the shores of Hudson Bay. Filming took place between August 1920, and August 1921, mostly on the Ungava Peninsula of Hudson Bay. Flaherty employed two recently developed Akeley gyroscope cameras which required minimum lubrication; this allowed him to tilt and pan for certain shots even in cold weather. He also set up equipment to develop and print his footage on location and show it in a makeshift theater to his subjects. Rather than simply record events as they happened, Flaherty staged scenes -- fishing, hunting, building an igloo -- to carry along his narrative. The film's tremendous success confirmed Flaherty's status as a first-rate storyteller and keen observer of man's fragile relationship with the harshest environmental conditions. (In a sadly appropriate footnote, Nanook, the subject of the film, died of starvation not long after the film's release.)
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Tom Wiener
Before Robert Flaherty's Nanook of the North, filmmakers who had recorded the daily lives of people, starting with the Lumiere Brothers and their famed glimpses of workers leaving their factory, had been casual observers. Flaherty instinctively understood that film audiences loved a good story, and he set out to marry the conventions of narrative cinema with the reality of commonplace life. By choosing a setting of extreme conditions -- the death of Nanook shortly after the film's release only underscored the treacherous conditions of his life -- Flaherty started out with an inherently dramatic foundation. He built on that by asking his subjects, whose cooperation he wooed by screening footage of their work together, to stage scenes for him. The igloo which Nanook, his family, and friends built for Flaherty was larger than normal and contained only three sides, to allow the filmmaker's cameras access to the interior. Critics have charged that this technique compromised the film's authenticity, but, as in all of his major features (Moana, Man of Aran, Louisiana Story), Flaherty was more interested in the general rather than the specific. The truth of these films lies in their faithful rendering of man's relationship to the natural world, and in that regard, Flaherty had no peer.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 6/27/2000
  • UPC: 738329015534
  • Original Release: 1922
  • Source: Kino Video
  • Format: VHS

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Berry Kroeger spoken by
Technical Credits
Robert Flaherty Director, Cinematographer, Editor, Screenwriter
Stanley Silverman Score Composer
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 2 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 1, 2010

    The "First Documentary" ever!

    Despite that reputation the truth is, it is neither the first, nor a real documentary. The action is sometimes staged, such as the scene when the Inuits hide their rifles off camera and fight a huge walrus with spears and ropes instead. This doesn't take away from the educational value of this "documentary" though. After all, who would better reproduce ancient Inuit hunting techniques than someone as intelligent, brave and charismatic as the film's star, Nanook?
    Anyone interested in travel, adventure, indigenous cultures, hunting or film history would find this DVD extremely interesting.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews