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I saw this movie last night and went to bed without words. After having a chance to sleep on it, it is now starting to sink in how truly amazing this movie was. You will be first blown away by the fact that this movie even exists. It is truly unprecedented in every sense of the word. I don't remember seeing anything like it, since maybe "Nanook of the North", which would be a stretch. Unlike "Nanook", this movie is shot from the Inuit perspective, the characters are not looked upon as anthropological specimens. They are people living in a fragile existence, where any wrong move could mean sure death.
The actors are astonishing, and it must have been so terribly cold up there, that you know this was a labor of love for the production team. The scenery is astonishing. Almost everyone who participated in this production was full-blooded Inuit. It is a beautiful story based on an Inuit legend that exists on many different levels and subplots, etc. All told on the frozen tundra without ANY indication given about the timeframe, or even century, in which it was set.
I am just astonished at the painstaking attention to historical detail. I have read many books on Inuit culture, and most everything I have read was visualized in this movie, the social structure, the power of the patriarch, the constant looming of starvation, the role of the hunter/husband, the insubordination of women (pre-arranged marriages), the obsession with taboo and curses, the fine art of building igloos and staying warm in -60 temps, and yet, through all the hardships, there was so much happiness. They even showed how the dogs were handled and treated, even down to the way they would slicken their sledge rails by spitting small amounts of water on them until a layer of slick frozen ice formed, which makes the sledges slide easier over the pack ice. The one thing that I thought of today was how the movie was TOTALLY absent of the white, European influence. Their knives were made from caribou horns; they had no metal knives or metal cookware, which indicates that the movie was purposely based on a time before the Inuit's first contact with white men.
It has a slow start, it's only fault. You will be a bit confused at first, trying to understand the characters and what exactly is happening, but then it starts to really suck you in, you begin to love the protagonists, who are physically beautiful people, and then you will grow to hate the antagonists, who are mean and undesirable. Afterwards, you will realize that almost all of these people, cast and crew, were full-blooded Inuit. You will then want to immediately see it again and demand a documentary on the making of this film. You will want to know who these people are, what they do in their normal lives, because most of these actors are making their big screen debut. The end of the movie gives you a quick behind-the-scenes peek, but it serves as only a small appetizer to a bigger feast. Most importantly, your respect for their pride and perseverance of their culture will increase ten-fold