(Review originally written at 21 March 2007)

This is not fully a documentary, since Robert J. Flaherty had to forcefully put in some staged elements. Also the characters in the movie did not really lived that way as seen in this movie and they weren't even related in fact, just put together for this movie. Nevertheless the movie still gives a interesting and detailed look into the lives of the Inuit people. You also have to watch this movie in perspective, back in 1922, really nobody was really familiar with how people lived on the Artic. In that regard "Nanook of the North" is a really insightful and interesting movie for its time, that I bet was watched with great interested at the time of its release.

It's of course not the earliest 'documentary', since in the early days of cinema, the medium was almost entirely purely used for documenting events, such as the building of a skyscraper. But this however without doubt is one of the earliest- if not earliest, full length featured 'documentary'. All the more reason why the movie is a sort of significant and essential movie.

The movie concentrates on a family of Eskimo's (Inuit) and their everyday live. Basically their entire life is about one thing; finding food for the day, for survival. Everything they do evolves around food. Quite ironic actually that months after this movie was finished Nanook (Allakariallal) died of starvation.

The movie flows well and features some interesting sequences. It's actually hard to believe that they really followed the family for a year, since the eventual end result looks like it also could had been shot in one month or even less. The movie concentrates on the most interesting aspects of their life, though I definitely wouldn't want to trade with them.

The movie is very well put together and since it's a silent movie, it allows its images to tell the entire story. It in a way certainly makes this movie all the more powerful and effective to watch. the landscapes are dull and cold but in this movie they're made to look as lively and warm.

Despite that it's over 80 years old already, the movie is still perfectly good and informative to watch.


About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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