Nanook of the North

Nanook of the North ★★★½

"As soon as I showed them some of the the first results, Nanook and his crowd were completely won over." - Robert Flaherty,

A chubby baby playing with puppies! Gold!!!!

Cue the music... DO YOU WANT TO BUILD AN IGLOO? This is the first documentary and it helped establish the language and feel of documentary features. That's pretty cool and I have a soft spot for films that break new ground so color me impressed by the scope of what was done almost exactly 100 years ago. My appreciation of this film is two-fold.

(1) As a documentary:

What can I say, I'm a sucker for 100 year old footage of stuff I've never seen in person. I look at this footage and it reminds me that I'm alive and part of history and that is what I have always appreciated about crazy ass documentarians. The harsh winter looks harsh and that's just the beginning. The film does a great job of showing hunting practices, how domiciles are created, and the general daily activities of the people being studied such as travel and leisure. I'm sincerely impressed by the footage they got and I think the film is edited and scored in such a way that I was never really bored. I like it a lot.

(2) As a colonialist lie:

But Todd some of it is lies and staged and dare I say a little insensitive? Um... yeah duh welcome to documentary and the concept that everyone has an agenda when curating information. I think it is fitting that the first real documentary is also the first documentary with an agenda. We know some of the stuff was staged and embellished and in a historical sense that is just as interesting to me. This means that Nanook of the North can be viewed in terms of the information it conveys but also in terms of the information it manipulates for entertainment purposes.

It's no The Adventures of Nuktuk: Hero of the South... but it is an interesting watch with lots of layers to analyze.

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