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Gabriel de Gravone
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
This is a fascinating documentary from Robert Flaherty, a very prolific director of early documentaries. He follows the adventures of the Eskimo Nanook, and we get to see what life was like for the Eskimo in the early 20th Century as we watch Nanook with his family, hunting for food, and building igloos.
This is really amazing stuff for 1922. It feels like it could have been made long after that. That's probably due to the fact that it relies on real settings and real people. It's not bound by the restrictions of manufactured sets, costumes, etc. of the period. However, though it looks utterly authentic, don't be fooled into thinking that Flaherty gives us a purely realistic snapshot of Eskimo life. He planted the early seeds of reality t.v. with this film, making careful use of editing to create a narrative with all of the melodramatic trappings of any studio picture. Though it's a fascinating film, it's also a reminder that documentary film is just as manipulative as fiction, and that Michael Moore wasn't the first to corner the market on presenting fiction as fact.
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