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In the Land of the Head Hunters (1914)

5.9
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Original advertising for the film describes it as a drama of primitive life on the shores of the North Pacific... See full synopsis »

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Title: In the Land of the Head Hunters (1914)

In the Land of the Head Hunters (1914) on IMDb 5.9/10

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Cast

Credited cast:
Stanley Hunt ...
Motana
Sarah Constance Smith Hunt ...
Naida and a Na'nalalal Dancer
Mrs. George Walkus ...
Naida and Sorceress
Paddy 'Malid ...
Kenada
Balutsa ...
Waket and Yaklus
Kwagwanu ...
Sorcerer
Francine Hunt ...
Clam digger, captive, wedding dancer
Bob Wilson ...
Fisherman who drops a paddle on the rocks
Maggie Frank ...
Naida (uncredited)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Awidi ...
Extra
Alfred Charlie ...
Extra
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Storyline

Original advertising for the film describes it as a drama of primitive life on the shores of the North Pacific... See full synopsis »

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Drama | History

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Release Date:

7 December 1914 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

In the Land of the War Canoes  »

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1.37 : 1
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User Reviews

 
As Historical Document, Valuable; As Film, So-So
20 July 2014 | by (Montreal, Quebec, Canada) – See all my reviews

Okay, first off, check the date - "In the Land of the Head Hunters" is a reconstructed and remastered print of a film made in 1914, by Edward S. Curtis, known mostly now as a photographer and ethnographer. As such, it is entirely of its time - i.e., racist, sexist and certainly specious in its depiction of a First Nations people. But valuable for all of that. The story line, for what it's worth, concerns a young son of a tribal chief who does his manhood rituals, falls in love and marries the daughter of another tribe's chieftain; this upsets the Sorceror, brother of yet another tribal chief who wanted the girl for himself - mayhem ensues, mostly in canoes but also on land, until eventually the good guy prevails. It's simplistic and definitely racist

  • the people are portrayed as quaintly primitive, the women are


completely subservient to the men, and the main occupation of the tribes involves war and cutting off the heads of enemies.

Given that this is actually set in the Pacific Northwest, between Washington State, USA, and British Columbia, Canada, the whole head- hunting aspect is completely off. Not to mention the "primitive" label
  • these peoples were highly sophisticated, just not in a form


recognized (at the time) by Europeans. But the positives in this film are quite striking too. First of all, the actors are all actual members of the Kwakwaka'wakw Nation, from Vancouver Island, and the costumes, totem poles and especially the special dances are all authentic. The story, by white director Curtis, is worthless; as a bit of filmed historical information, however, the movie is quite valuable. Many scenes were lost over the past 100 years, and the restorers opted to insert still photographs (also by Curtis, of the same people) to bridge the gaps, which doesn't work all that well dramatically, but is again useful as an historical artifact; they also were able to restore the original orchestral soundtrack, which adds drama to this silent movie. Certainly not for everyone, but film historians and anthropologists might find something of value here.


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