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In the Land of the Head Hunters (1914)

In 1911, as part of his massive undertaking, famed Northwest photographer Edward S. Curtis travelled to Vancouver Island, British Columbia, to visit the Kwakwaka'wakw. By the next year, ... See full summary »

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Cast

Credited cast:
Stanley Hunt ...
Motana
Sarah Constance Smith Hunt ...
Naida / A Na'nalalal Dancer
Mrs. George Walkus ...
Naida / Sorceress
Paddy 'Malid ...
Kenada
Balutsa ...
Waket / Yaklus
Kwagwanu ...
Sorcerer
Francine Hunt ...
Clam digger / Captive / Wedding Dancer
Bob Wilson ...
Fisherman who drops a paddle on the rocks
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Awidi ...
Extra
Alfred Charlie ...
Extra
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Storyline

In 1911, as part of his massive undertaking, famed Northwest photographer Edward S. Curtis travelled to Vancouver Island, British Columbia, to visit the Kwakwaka'wakw. By the next year, needing money for his project and to add to his research and still photography work, Curtis decided that the best way to record the traditional way of life and ceremonies of the Kwakwaka'wakw was to make one of the first feature motion pictures. Curtis had already shot footage in 1906 of the Hopi Snake dance, which he had previously showed during his talks, but this was to be on a grander scale. It took three years of preparation for this one film including the weaving of the costumes; building of the war canoes, housefronts, poles; and the carving of masks. Assisting on the film was George Hunt, a Kwakwaka'wakw who had served as an interpreter for the famous anthropologist Franz Boas nearly twenty years before. Hunt helped contribute substantial portions of the film's story as well. Selected for the ...

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

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Drama | History

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7 December 1914 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

In the Land of the War Canoes  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Hiawatha (1913) also included a Native American cast a year before in 1913 and shared the same composer--John J. Braham. See more »

Connections

Featured in Natural Born Killers (1994) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Film and Subject
28 July 2004 | by See all my reviews

Edwin S. Curtis's primary medium was still photography; he took pictures of aborigines. This documentary about the Kwakiutls of British Columbia contains some nice images--especially those from a buoyant camera within a canoe. The animal costumes and collecting of heads is worth looking at. The story that Curtis attached to his ethnographic record is uninteresting and untrustworthy, though. The films of Robert Flaherty to the films of Michael Moore have been accused of fictionalization, but at least those narratives, true to documentary film-making or not, are entertaining. As far as making the subject interesting to me, Curtis failed. The documentary itself, however, is very old--the earliest feature-length documentary I've seen. The film itself more so than the subject has become the artifact of interest.


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