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Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner (2001)
"Atanarjuat" (original title)

R  |   |  Drama, Fantasy  |  26 July 2002 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 5,406 users   Metascore: 91/100
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The telling of an Inuit legend of an evil spirit causing strife in the community and one warrior's endurance and battle of its menace.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Natar Ungalaaq ...
Sylvia Ivalu ...
Peter-Henry Arnatsiaq ...
Lucy Tulugarjuk ...
Madeline Ivalu ...
Pauloosie Qulitalik ...
Qulitalik / A shaman (as Paul Qulitalik)
Eugene Ipkarnak ...
Sauri, the chief
Pakak Innuksuk ...
Amaqjuaq (as Pakkak Innushuk)
Neeve Irngaut ...
Abraham Ulayuruluk ...
Apayata Kotierk ...
Mary Qulitalik ...
Luke Taqqaugaq ...
Alex Uttak ...
Eric Nutarariaq ...
Young Sauri


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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Fantasy

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some sexuality/nudity and violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:



Release Date:

26 July 2002 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office


CAD 1,960,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$36,342 (USA) (7 June 2002)


$3,786,801 (USA) (24 January 2003)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| | | (DVD)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The first Inuktitut-language feature film. See more »


Just before Atanarjuat jumps over the crevasse, the shadow of a crew member appears in the snow, at the bottom of the screen, to the left. See more »


Oki: What are you all looking at? Haven't you ever seen anyone kick a dog before?
See more »

Crazy Credits

The film's end credits play next to behind the scenes footage of the making of the film. Many primary cast and crew members appear at the same time that their credits come on screen. See more »


Featured in Reel Injun (2009) See more »

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User Reviews

A different language
20 January 2003 | by (Taipei) – See all my reviews

The biggest surprise about the for Inuit-produced feature is that you do not need to be politically correct to like it. It is, besides a few excusable flaws, just a great film. It is extremely difficult to transfer stories from foreign cultures and oral traditions to the screen - the whole visual language of the media is loaded with subtle assumptions on how stories hold together and characters should act; and these assumptions mostly belong to "Western"-modern culture. I think this films great achievement is to avoid much of it. One example: It's not just due to the villainous character of some persons that they behave badly - the conflicts are not just conflicts between individuals. It's rather the entire community that is ill, due to spirit possession.

The film is told in a somewhat different visual language, and this is what makes it so convincing; this is also what makes it difficult to understand at times (particularly in the beginning), but this is the price to pay - it is rather surprising how comprehensible it gets later. The film as a whole is really exciting and touching. It's pace is slow (and I like slow-paced movies). It's solutions for particular scenes are striking - the appearance of the bad spirit in the end is eerie, and the effect is just done by the camera position. On the other hand, there is a sort a documentary immediacy to everything, as if the camera just happened to be in the right spot when the story unfolded (I liked the burping and spitting a lot).

There are, of course, points that don't work out well: The music is the usual One-World-Tribal-kitsch-mud, with didgeridoos and Tuvan throat-singing, as if every "primitive" culture was just the same (an idea originating from 18th century Europe and strangely enough professed by many "tribal" activists today). But, well, it's pretty discrete...

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