Nanook of the North
Documentary | Silent film with English intertitless | 79 minutes
Writer/director Robert J. Flaherty vividly films the struggles of an indigenous Inuit family living in the bleak and forbidding Canadian arctic. Flaherty follows Nanook, the family head and a celebrated hunter, as he kills a wild walrus and spears a seal through a hole in the ice. This saves Nanook’s family from certain starvation. To provide shelter in the brutally cold country, the film also shows how skillfully Nanook and his family build an igloo from blocks of hardened snow. What comes through so remarkably is this: Nanook and his family, facing life-and-death experiences every day, always maintain optimism and hope.
Why Stream This Film?
- Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus): 100%
- Nanook was among the first group of 25 films selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the United States National Film Registry for being culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.
- In a 2014 Sight and Sound poll, film critics voted Nanook of the North the seventh best documentary of all time.
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The film is not technically sophisticated; how could it be, with one camera, no lights, freezing cold, and everyone at the mercy of nature? What shines through is the humanity and optimism of the Inuit.
Despite the comparatively primitive technique and the natural difficulties of shooting a film in the frozen Hudson wastelands, every minute of Nanook lives up to its reputation.
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