Nanook of the North

Nanook of the North

nanook1.jpgAn endless struggle, an endless hunt for food, the endless daily survival of the Eskimos of the North. Nanook of the north has been described as a landmark in both the history of documentary movement and cinema itself. One of the first films where there was movement. People were at awe just being able to see people moving on a screen. Audio meant nothing. Directors use this to their advantage. They make the audience make up their own minds as to what the narrative will be. What does Nanook say to Nyla? How does he interact with his sons?

After watching the whole documentary and believing that this was a real life drama about the survival of a family dealing with hardship in the cruel Alaskan weather, the twist appeared that threw me off course. All throughout the film it seemed that this family was really happy together and that they al helped each other with everything. After further contemplation I realized that this could be done to perfection because of the lack of narrative. Therefore the director could direct us in the direction he wanted us to go. Although we could make up the narrative, we still see the visuals which clearly show that this is a happy, loving family. This is where the director excelled in selling his story. Selling the idea that the Eskimos look after their own. Even if they are not family they still behave towards each other the same way they would towards their immediate family.

This is clearly an ethnographic film where anthropology and documentary making come together to form a film where the ethics are a major issue. Is it exploitation of the Eskimos or emphasizing a point? A point showing the close relationship of this group of people.

After finding out that the director used these people to role play his scenes I was not fazed at all. He used the images available to him to make the documentary that he wanted to make. I feel that the reason he made the film was to show the close relationship of these people and of this is the case then he was warranted in doing what he did.

‘Tia Mak’
(The End)

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