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The White Dawn (1974)

In 1896, three survivors of a whaling ship-wreck in the Canadian Arctic are saved and adopted by an Eskimo tribe but frictions arise when the three start misbehaving.


Philip Kaufman


James Houston (novel), James Houston (screenplay) | 2 more credits »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Warren Oates ... Billy
Timothy Bottoms ... Daggett
Louis Gossett Jr. ... Portagee (as Lou Gossett)
Joanasie Salamonie Joanasie Salamonie ... Kangiak
Simonie Kopapik Simonie Kopapik ... Sarkak
Pilitak Pilitak ... Neevee
Sagiaktok Sagiaktok ... Shaman
Munamee Sako Munamee Sako ... Sowaiapik
Pitseolai Kili Pitseolai Kili ... Sowaiapik's Wife
Meetook Mallee Meetook Mallee ... Ikuma
Seemee Nookiguak Seemee Nookiguak ... Avinga
Sakkeassie Sakkeassie ... Dirty Boy
Akshooyooliak Akshooyooliak ... Old Mother
Nilak Butler Nilak Butler ... Pance
Oolipika Joamie Oolipika Joamie ... Mia


In 1896, three whalers are stranded in the Arctic North Canada and seek refuge with an Eskimo tribe. Gradually, they gain control with the Eskimo village and introduce gambling, booze, theft, and their special variation of sex. In the beginning, the Eskimos accept it, but slowly the cultural tension starts growing. Written by Frank Christensen <fch@post4.tele.dk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Live...love...survival...the greatest adventures of all. See more »


PG | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


According to producer Irwin Winkler, this movie was the main factor in his decision to invite Director Philip Kaufman to direct The Right Stuff (1983). Portions of Henry Mancini's score for this film can be heard in the later film. See more »

User Reviews

Interesting trip up north--WAY up north.
1 September 1999 | by Hermit C-2See all my reviews

This little-known film of Philip Kaufman's is a look at a culture not seen much in films, that of the Innuit, or Eskimo people of Arctic Canada. Three whalers (Warren Oates, Timothy Bottoms and Louis Gosset Jr.) are stranded among them after a shipwreck. The year is 1896 but it could just as well be 1996 or 1796 as far as we can tell in this simple world where survival against nature is always the biggest concern. Surprisingly to me, the culture clash does not seem to be that great through most of the movie, and when it comes, it does so rather quickly. I think this makes for a less strong film but it's still an interesting one that really fascinates at times.

Cinematographer Michael Chapman ('Raging Bull') provides some great shots of the Great White North and Henry Mancini's score is very nice also. Martin Ransohoff is usually known as a producer but co-wrote the script here with Thomas Rickman.

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USA | Canada



Release Date:

21 July 1974 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Die weiße Dämmerung See more »

Filming Locations:

Baffin Island, Nunavut, Canada


Box Office


$1,700,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


| (TV premiere)

Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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