"Nanook Of The North" Essay

395 words - 2 pages

"Nanook of the North" was directed by Robert Flaherty in 1922. The film is remarkable because it is the first of its kind. Many consider this film to be the first documentary ever made. Nanook chronicles the often-brutal relationship between humans and nature's unforgiving elements. Over the course of a year, the movie's subjects--Inuit Nanook and his family--must hunt, fish, and build an igloo to survive in the pristine but inhospitable environs of Canada's frozen Hudson Bay region. No film before Nanook had endeavored to put the real lives of real ...view middle of the document...

Many scenes were contrived. For example, the scene where Nanook struggles with the seal was actually a dramatization. The seal we see was dead from the beginning and the tug-of-war struggle was actually between Nanook and other "actors" off camera. The dramatic battle with the walrus was actual, but as Flaherty was shooting the footage, Nanook and the others were shouting to him to put down the camera and pick up the gun to shoot the walrus. Flaherty ignored there shouts so that he could capture them taking the walrus in the "old way." Furthermore, the clothes that we see Nanook and the others wearing were not really representative of what the Inuit people would be wearing at the time; they were more representative of the clothing from the days gone past. By 1921 Inuit people were incorporating clothing from the south, guns, and southern buildings/shelters into their lives. Flaherty describes his intentions with the film as trying to capture and document a vanishing way of life before it was too late.
What do you think of all this? Do all of Flaherty's creative choices undermine the authenticity of the film? Do they make it less true? Or, perhaps, do they work to preserve the truth of a vanishing time, as Flaherty describes, before it is gone altogether? Truth or fiction?

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