Nanook Of The North

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Nanook of the North


English   Country: USA   Year: 1922

Nanook of the North


Robert J. Flaherty





Classic documentary that chronicals one year in the life of an Inuit Eskimo and his family. Black & White. Silent.



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User Reviews


(Average=4.67 out of 5; Total Number=9)

A Great Film About Inuits (Eskimos) (rating=5)

This review is for the Criterion Collection DVD edition of the film.

This film is credited with being one of the first documentary films. When first released it became known worldwide. Although the film was staged it is partially accurate. At the time of the film was being made, Inuit society was beginning to modernize and the film was made to portray traditional life for the Inuits.

To this day the film remains one of the most famous documentaries ever made.

The film is well photographed and is the first silent film the Criterion Collection has released on DVD. The new musical score is excellent and often appropriate for the particular scenes. This film is generally appropriate for all ages but near the end of the film there is a scene of brief female nudity.

The Criterion Collection has resotred the film to its original frame rate and the special features include photographs of the region where the movie was filmed and also inclused a rare interview with the director's widow.

The Beginning Of Documentary Film, One Of The Greatest Films (rating=5)

Most of what I could say has already been said. It is an important historical document of a vanished way of life. It is a unique tribute to one man&his stand agianst the elements. Flaherty invented documentary as we now know it in this film. The filmmaker displays almost as much tenacity&courage in recording the material as Nanook does in his everyday life. A measure of the film's greatness is the profound effect it had on Orson Welles. After seeing the film Welles is said to have abandoned the editing of his 'Magnificent Ambersons'&taken on a journey to South America to shoot in documentary style.

Good Movie (rating=4)

I saw this movie during a documentary class and my whole class enjoyed watching this movie. However there are many who refer to this movie as a view of "eskimo" life, which it is not. We learned in class that this movie was actually representing a time about 10-15 years prior to the filming. Many of the things in this movie were contrived for the making of the film. Some examples of this were Nanook's name (and family) and the walrus hunt (they no longer used harpoons to get walrus', instead they used guns).

However, that said, this WAS one of the best fictional accounts of inuit life I have ever seen. It truely had the flavor of reality and I found myself numourous time pulling for the people in the film. It also had an essence of comedy that I had not expected. I found my self very satisfied with the movie in general.


Robert J. Flaherty, who wrote, directed, produced, shot, and edited this landmark picture, will forever be remembered as the godfather of documentary filmmaking. While this landmark 1922 production, shot on the northeastern shore of Hudson Bay, isn't a true documentary by contemporary conventions, it remains the first great nonfiction film. With the help of Nanook and his friends and family, Flaherty undertook the mission of re-creating an Eskimo culture that no longer existed in a series of staged scenes. Nanook ice fishes, harpoons a walrus, catches a seal, traps, builds an igloo, and trades pelts at a trading post, all captured by Flaherty's inquisitive camera. Though he presents a "happy" culture bordering on primitive innocence (Nanook and his family were in reality quite westernized), his loving portrait is anything but condescending. Ultimately Flaherty shares his tremendous respect and awe for a culture that has learned to not just survive but thrive in such an inhospitable environment. On a purely visual level the film is a beautiful work of cinema, an understated drama in an austere, unblemished landscape of snow and ice. With unerring simplicity and directness, Flaherty re-creates the details and rhythms of a culture long gone and gives the world a glimpse. David Shepard's restoration, which is offered by Kino, shows a cleaner, brighter image than has ever been available on video and restores scenes missing for decades, and he has commissioned a new score by Timothy Brock, which incorporates and expands upon elements of the original score. A short interview with Flaherty's widow concludes the tape.--Sean Axmaker