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In the Land of the Head Hunters (1914)

Not Rated | | Drama, History | 7 December 1914 (USA)
In 1911, as part of his massive undertaking, famed Northwest photographer Edward S. Curtis travelled to Vancouver Island, British Columbia, to visit the Kwakwaka'wakw. By the next year, ... See full summary »

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Cast

Credited cast:
Stanley Hunt ...
Motana
Sarah Constance Smith Hunt ...
Naida / A Na'nalalal Dancer
Mrs. George Walkus ...
Naida / Sorceress
Paddy 'Malid ...
Kenada
Balutsa ...
Waket / Yaklus
Kwagwanu ...
Sorcerer
Francine Hunt ...
Clam digger / Captive / Wedding Dancer
Bob Wilson ...
Fisherman who drops a paddle on the rocks
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Awidi ...
Extra
Alfred Charlie ...
Extra
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Storyline

In 1911, as part of his massive undertaking, famed Northwest photographer Edward S. Curtis travelled to Vancouver Island, British Columbia, to visit the Kwakwaka'wakw. By the next year, needing money for his project and to add to his research and still photography work, Curtis decided that the best way to record the traditional way of life and ceremonies of the Kwakwaka'wakw was to make one of the first feature motion pictures. Curtis had already shot footage in 1906 of the Hopi Snake dance, which he had previously showed during his talks, but this was to be on a grander scale. It took three years of preparation for this one film including the weaving of the costumes; building of the war canoes, housefronts, poles; and the carving of masks. Assisting on the film was George Hunt, a Kwakwaka'wakw who had served as an interpreter for the famous anthropologist Franz Boas nearly twenty years before. Hunt helped contribute substantial portions of the film's story as well. Selected for the ...

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

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Genres:

Drama | History

Certificate:

Not Rated
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Details

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Release Date:

7 December 1914 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

In the Land of the War Canoes  »

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(Milestone)

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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Trivia

Hiawatha (1913) also included a Native American cast a year before in 1913 and shared the same composer--John J. Braham. See more »

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User Reviews

In the Land of the Head Hunters
23 December 2015 | by See all my reviews

In the Land of the Head Hunters (1914)

** (out of 4)

Director Edward S. Curtis took his cameras to Vancouver Island where he wanted to film the Kwakiutl Indian tribe. This film isn't a documentary but an attempt to take their beliefs and turn them into a fictional film. The story centers around Motana, a man sent off to do a spiritual dance when he sees a vision of his future wife. He eventually runs into this woman but she's been offered to an evil sorcerer.

IN THE LAND OF THE HEAD HUNTERS was at one point in the 70s re-released with altered scenes, an added vocal soundtrack and other trimmings but thankfully the folks at Milestone attempted to get the movie back to its original version or at least as close to it as possible. The film is fairly hard to judge because they had two incomplete and very badly damaged prints to work with and sadly a lot of the film is still missing and has been replaced with title cards.

Overall the film isn't all that good but it's an interesting one to watch. I say this because it is fascinating to see the various Kwakiutl beliefs including the stuff dealing with the man going out to do his spiritual thing. This of course leads to how women are bought and sold. These things are rather interesting and it's really too bad that these things weren't presented in a documentary instead of a feature. As a film this thing really doesn't offer us anything fresh or original for the time. The performances aren't memorable or very good either.

If you're a silent film buff it's certainly worth watching this once but there's really not too much here.


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