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Nanook of the North (Criterion Collection) (1922)

Cast: Berry Kroeger, Berry Kroeger
Director: Robert Flaherty, Robert Flaherty
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Rating: Not Rated
Studio: Criterion
Genre: Classics, Documentary, Foreign, Silent, Criterion Collection, Canada
Running Time: 79 min.
Languages: English
Subtitles: English
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Recently Rented By greyotter

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.) ~ Tom Wiener, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

time travel by karlfrank August 1, 2005 - 8:10 AM PDT
0 out of 3 members found this review helpful
To be able to witness a traditional way of life, skills that the Inuit took tens of thousands of years perfecting, mostly now vanished, is time travel of a rare kind.

fantastic documentary by PDull March 19, 2005 - 2:42 PM PST
3 out of 3 members found this review helpful
This is an amazing silent documentary on the irrepressible Nanook ("The Bear") and his harsh life in the cold North. It is an amazing glimpse into the life of an Eskimo circa 1920, including hunting, igloo building, fishing, and trapping. Note that much of the film is focused on survival, and there are several scenes of killing and eating animals (not much plant-life grows where Nanook lived, except moss used for fuel). But the happy smile on Nanook's face after building an igloo is priceless. This is a model documentary - dramatic, funny, and thrilling. Rent it!

Sub-zero home movies by wes2666 September 28, 2004 - 9:53 PM PDT
5 out of 5 members found this review helpful
Nanook of the North was the first anthropological documentary feature and probably the most influential. The arctic landscape is beautiful and dangerous; the people resourceful and charming, and the film is not a bit less strange than a documentary shot on Venus. According to the prologue material, Flaherty brought along printing equipment and a projector to show Nanook and his family what they were creating. I imagine this makes anthropologists cringe since Nanook is made aware of "performing" his culture. But this just adds another layer of poignancy to the film. When the long dead Nanook smiles and mugs for the camera to amuse his family, the viewer ia drawn into a lost home movie from a nearly extinct culture.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 7.65)
142 Votes
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Jonathan Rosenbaum's Alternative List to the AFI's
From Rosenbaum's 1998 article in the Chicago Reader: List-o-mania, Or How I Stopped Worrying And Learned To Love American Movies (Films were listed alphabetically only.)
"If you like Croneberg you may also like... "
A random list of goodness with no particular theme -- really!

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