Nanook of the North

Nanook of the North (Robert J.Flaherty, 1922)

Having loved Flaherty's Louisiana Story, I got into Nanook of the North with some expectations of documentary style and realism. This Silent Film shot during one year in the great North of my country, Canada and even more specifically, the Province of Québec, has a very important anthropological value. It shows how those people pratically isolated from civilization lived in these extreme conditions.
However this is not absolutely a great film or the kind of feature you want to buy and watch repeatedly. It's the subject matter and how the techniques of documentaries have been developped within this film. It is more important to see this film as a piece of History, a witness of another time instead of a great film. It is clearly the birth of documentaries, even if Flaherty always had some kind of story structure behind his images, it is still a how to make documentaries.
It was a mandatory stop as a part of my journey through Mediafilm's Masterpieces list and They Shoot Pictures' 1000 Greatest Films.


  1. Nanook of the North comes alive perhaps the most when it is shown on a screen and a live score is matched to the silent Arctic documentary. A few winters ago, the impact was much deeper than I had seen it before on DVD in film class. An additional fact about the history of Flaherty's "documentary," is that the original stock was lost, and so what we are left with is a re-construction of his first visit a year prior with Nanook and his family, and so, quite staged. But does that make it inauthentic? They are truly surviving in front of our eyes by ancient and proven methods, captured through the lens of the 20th century.

  2. It probably helps to watch this one on the big screen as you stated it. It feels staged as many of Flaherty's documentaries... Well, a documentary is never totally objective...
    Thanx for commenting Tele Gram.


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