Mala leads a contented life as the best hunter in his Canadian Arctic tribe, providing meat, fish and birds with his great skill. When another tribe member returns from trading furs with the white men for items such as a gun and an iron needle, Mala's wife, Aba, urges him to make the 500-mile trek across the frozen tundra to do the same. After the long night of winter, Mala does go with his family to the white man's "floating house" in Tjarnak. The friendly captain makes trade for Mala's excellent furs, but upsets Mala when he insists that Aba sleep with him that night. "He didn't even ask me!" Mala complains. Afterwards, the captain suggests that Mala go whale hunting and promises not to touch his wife, so Mala agrees. But news of a successful catch spurs a celebration on board ship, and the captain has Aba forcibly removed from her tent, plied with liquor, and then he rapes her. In the morning, the still-drunk Aba staggers from the ship, but collapses in the snow, where she is ... Written by
Arthur Hausner <email@example.com>
A beautifully photographed melodrama containing many documentary elements of life among eskimos.
I was impressed by the beautiful photography in this film, which was shot on location in Alaska. Although technically a melodrama, we see lots of activities Eskimos are involved in, such as hunting, dancing, building igloos, etc. And their customs, such as offering their wives to visitors, are routinely in the story. The hunting sequences were sometimes from stock footage, as it was easy to recognize some rear projection scenes of animals, but even these were fascinating. Spear fishing for salmon, hunting for walrus, caribou and even a polar bear and a whale made it seem like a documentary at times. There was no cast listing, which reinforced the documentary flavor. The film-makers tried to make it seem very authentic, with the natives speaking only in an Eskimo language that was either translated by someone on screen or by intertitles. The introduction stated that except for the white traders and the Royal Mounted Canadian Police, there were no actors in the film, but this was not strictly true. The two leading characters, played by Mala and Lotus Long, were Eskimos by birth, but were professional actors with credits for earlier films and you could see sometimes they had makeup on. But they were excellent in their roles and they went on to have Hollywood careers. All in all, the film is definitely worth a look.
15 of 17 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?