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Centuries ago, in what would become the Canadian Arctic, Atuat is promised to the malevolent Oki, son of the leader of their tribe. But Atuat loves the good-natured Atanarjuat, who ultimately finds a way to marry her. Oki's sister, Puja also fancies Atanarjuat, and when she causes strife between him and his brother Amaqjuaq, Oki seizes the opportunity to wreak a terrible revenge on Atanarjuat. Written by
Shannon Patrick Sullivan <email@example.com>
The film makes the most of the immense snowy landscape
It tells a legend from the two thousand years ago, about Atanarjuat, who incurs the jealous enmity of Oki when he marries Atuat Oki kills Atanarjuat's brother, but Atanarjuat escapes in a stunning sequence, running naked across the ice floes, outstripping his pursuers until, his feet torn and bloody, he is taken in by a friendly sorcerer
The motion picture concedes nothing in the way of authenticity, with sequences that show in realistic detail the training of sled-dogs, cutting up animal carcasses or making an igloo But the convincing ethnographic elements only serve to intensify the compelling story and characters, which take on a truly epic dimension
If the purpose of a national cinema is to represent the culture of the peoples it belongs to, then "Atanarjuat" achieves this victoriously, both the content of the film and the manner of its telling being wholly specific to Canada, yet in the process achieving a universal appeal
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