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Nanook of the North (1922)

Not Rated | | Documentary | 11 June 1922 (USA)
In this silent predecessor to the modern documentary, film-maker Robert J. Flaherty spends one year following the lives of Nanook and his family, Inuits living in the Arctic Circle.

Director:

Robert J. Flaherty
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Allakariallak Allakariallak ... Nanook (as Nanook)
Alice Nevalinga Alice Nevalinga ... Nanook's Wife - the Smiling One (as Nyla)
Cunayou Cunayou ... Cunayou -Nanook's Daughter
Allegoo Allegoo ... Allegoo - Nanook's Son
Camock Camock ... Camock - Nanook's Cat
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Storyline

Documents one year in the life of Nanook, an Eskimo (Inuit), and his family. Describes the trading, hunting, fishing and migrations of a group barely touched by industrial technology. Nanook of the North was widely shown and praised as the first full-length, anthropological documentary in cinematographic history. Written by <xaviermartin@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

inuit | kayak | igloo | canada | harpoon | See All (32) »

Taglines:

A picture with more drama, greater thrill, and stronger action than any picture you ever saw. See more »

Genres:

Documentary

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA | France

Release Date:

11 June 1922 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Nanuk der Eskimo See more »

Filming Locations:

Hudson Bay, Québec, Canada See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$53,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (TCM print)

Sound Mix:

Silent

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film is included on Roger Ebert's "Great Movies" list. See more »

Quotes

Title Card: Landing at the white man's "big igloo" - - the trading post.
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Crazy Credits

A story of life and love in the actual arctic. See more »

Alternate Versions

Remastered with image enhancement, speed correction and a new score in 1998 See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Kovak Box (2006) See more »

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User Reviews

 
a time and place and scenes from a walk of life, nothing more or less
20 May 2006 | by MisterWhiplashSee all my reviews

Robert Flaherty is one of the more noted documentarians in the history of film. It is not without some concentration (ironically maybe) to watch his most well-known work, Nanook of North, which is as much documentary as it is almost the very first widely seen "Home movie". There's no narration aside from the several title cards listing the obvious things that Nanook and his family/tribe are doing in the arctic.

Therefore this is much more of a visual kind of documentary, not as outrageous and experimental as those of Dziga Vertov of the same period (using what camera equipment available, shooting seemingly on the fly), but with a distinct view on what life is usually like for these people. We basically see them doing very elementary tasks, more based on living day-to-day in this harsh climate than anything overly dramatized.

That all of the scenes are really 'staged' (and, apparently, it's not even Nanook's real wife) doesn't deter the viewer from what is being shown. It's like a mix of the objective and subjective- objective in the sense that 'this is what it is, the Eskimos hunting for food, raising their children, making their shelter in igloos, and making trips to ensure their survival'. Subjective in that Flaherty's camera is creating a specific view of these people, their faces captured memorably in the scratchy print of the film. In a way it's also like the first, and perhaps more groundbreaking, of the lot of nature documentaries to follow over the years, though to a primitive extreme.

In all, Nanook of the North is meant to above all show the versatility of these people, both the physical nature (i.e. hunting the seal, which is the most exciting in the film) and the nature of the spirit of these people, living this way as a cycle over and over again.


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