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In a yurt on the snow-covered fields of the North, Nanook and Sedna live following the traditions of their ancestors. Alone in the wilderness, they look like the last people on Earth. Nanook and Sedna's traditional way of life starts changing - slowly, but inevitably. Hunting becomes more and more difficult, the animals around them die from inexplicable deaths and the ice has been melting earlier every year. Chena, who visits them regularly, is their only connection to the outside world - and to their daughter Ága, who has left the icy tundra a long time ago due to family feud. When Sedna's health deteriorates, Nanook decides to fulfill her wish. He embarks on a long journey in order to find Ága.
Nanook (played by Mikhail Aprosimov) and his wife Sedna (played by Feodosia Ivanova) are elderly Eskimos (or whatever the current politically correct term is) living in a yurt make of skins stretched over sticks, in what I guess is Siberia. They continue the traditional way of life, even though it is set in modern times. Nanook is a hunter who snares wildlife and catches fish through the ice. Sedna stays at home and looks after the yurt. They have one husky (played by Hector) who pulls the sled which is their only transport.
The film starts slowly, and stays slow. At first, this is irritating, but once you get used to the rhythm you forget about how slow it is because you become hypnotized by the amazing landscapes. This is a film that should be seen on the big screen: you need the endless vistas of snow to get the feel of it. And it feels real: the sharp clarity of sub-zero air, the vast desert-like snow-covered tundra.
Nanook and Sedna are indispensable to each other, and clearly love each other deeply. They are never at rest - constantly preparing and repairing, using the only materials they have: wood, stones, hides.
Nanook observes that spring is arriving earlier than it used to and that he never before experienced four days of unsuccessful hunting. This might be a hint of global warming, except that Sedna reminds him that this has, indeed, occurred before. Sedna is slightly clairvoyant, predicting the weather and a visit from their son, and dreaming a prophetic vision. This befits her name (Sedna is the name of an Eskimo goddess). Nanook's name is also significant: it is a reference to Robert Flaherty's groundbreaking early documentary "Nanook of the North".
They have two children, who have both left the traditional ways and live more modern lives. Their son visits them on a snowmobile. Their daughter, Aga, works in a mine. It is clear that Nanook and Sedna have chosen to continue their ancient ways, when they had other options.
The day-to-day lives of the Eskimos are fascinating and well photographed. It is a very hard life. They seem to be the only humans for as far as the eye can see. Food is scarce. Conditions are harsh.
Once you get used to the slow pace, Aga is very interesting and incredibly beautiful.
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