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Nanook of the North (1922) Poster

Trivia

The claim that Allakariallak died of starvation in 1922, months after the film was completed, is untrue; he did not starve but likely succumbed to tuberculosis.
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There are claims that all of the scenes are staged, and also that the woman who plays Nanook's wife was not his actual wife.
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The film was sponsored by the French fur company Revillon Freres, which provided $50,000 for director Robert J. Flaherty's 16-month expedition halfway to the North Pole. Despite being rejected by five distributors, the film opened in New York City in 1922, after its success in Paris and Berlin, and grossed well over $40,000 in its first week.
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This film was selected into the National Film Registry in 1989 (the first year of inductions) for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". It was the first documentary to be preserved in the National Film Registry.
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The failure of the original copyright holder to renew the film's copyright resulted in it falling into public domain, meaning that virtually anyone could duplicate and sell a VHS/DVD copy of the film. Therefore, many of the versions of this film available on the market are either severely (and usually badly) edited and/or of extremely poor quality, having been duped from second- or third-generation (or more) copies of the film.
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Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
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Rated #6 in 2002 by International Documentary Assn. on its list of Top 20 Documentaries of all time.
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Despite being "the first modern documentary", most of it was staged. In real life, Allakariallak (Nanook) had regular contact with whites, lived in a modern house, and hunted with a gun. Robert J. Flaherty would later go as far as claiming Allakariallak died of starvation, when in fact he had died from tuberculosis and that film was meant to show how Inuit lived before modern times.
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The film is included on Roger Ebert's "Great Movies" list.
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This film is part of the Criterion Collection, spine #33.
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Interesting Facts gleans from the Film:
  • The hearthstone of the Eskimo... Seal oil for fuel - moss for wicking-a stone pot for melting snow. The temperature within the igloo must be kept below freezing to prevent dome and walls from melting
  • Nyla chews Nanook's boots to soften them, a most important operation, for sealskin boots become stiff and unwieldy overnight.
  • Rubbing noses - the Eskimo kiss.
  • Breaking camp, Nanook and his family ever on the quest for food prepare to start for the sealing grounds at sea
  • If Nanook had not put his sled on top of the igloo for the night, the dogs would have eaten the seal hide thongs which bind it parts together
  • As Artic snow is dry as sand. the sled runners must be glazed with ice to make them slide easily.
  • The tiny igloo Nanook made for the puppies has kept them warm all night and safe from the hungry jaws of their big brothers.
  • The puppy rides in Cunayou' hood during the day.
  • The kingships of Nanook's master dog is challenged
  • How Nanook hunts the "Ogjuk" - the big seal.
  • Being a mammal, the seal has to breathe frequently, so from the time the ice, each animal keeps at least one funnel-like hole open to the surface so it can come up for air at twenty-minute intervals.
  • From the smell of flesh and blood comes the blood. lust of the wolf - his forebear.
  • The most desired of all meat is that of seal. It affords the maximum of warmth and sustenance. The 'blubber-eating Eskimo' is a misconception. Blubber they use as we use butter.
  • With a relic of the feast, a seal flipper Allegoo and his companion enjoy a tug of war.
  • By the time the team is straightened, a threatening "drifter" drives in from the north.
  • Almost perishing from the icy blasts and unable to reach their snowhouse, the little family is driven to take refuge in a deserted igloo
  • The shrill piping of the wind, the rasp and hiss of driving snow, the mournful wolf howls of Nanook's master dog typify the melancholy spirit of the North.
  • Tia Mak (The End)
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