In this blend of documentary and fictional narrative from pioneering filmmaker Robert Flaherty, the everyday trials of life on Ireland's unforgiving Aran Islands are captured with attention to naturalistic beauty and historical detail.
Robert J. Flaherty
Colman 'Tiger' King,
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Documents one year in the life of Nanook, an Eskimo (Inuit), and his family. Describes the trading, hunting, fishing and migrations of a group barely touched by industrial technology. Nanook of the North was widely shown and praised as the first full-length, anthropological documentary in cinematographic history. Written by
Robert J. Flaherty's `Nanook Of The North' may be the first film about man's relationship with nature. Flaherty helps establish man's successful adaptation to his environment by filming extraordinary hunting and fishing scenes consisting largely of medium shots. The few close-ups of the Inuit generally portray the successful hunters smiling as they eat their kill. Flaherty contrasts these moments with sequences communicating the Inuit's struggles with the natural world. Here, he uses long shots: Nanook and his family become tiny black specks barely visible in the large, white frame. In the foreground the viewer sees bitter gusts of wind ruling over the desolate landscape. Flaherty's technique is simple but very effective. Not only does he depict man as a mere part of his environment, but he emphasizes how powerless man may feel amid the cold indifference of nature. At the same time, the hunting and feast sequences establish Nanook as a smart, tough survivor, a surprising victor over nature's harsh elements. In this way, Flaherty makes Nanook into a heroic figure.
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