Flaherty represents his subjects in a true classical form of ethnographic film that focused on Amerindian cultures. The Eskimo tribes of Inuit hunters were portrayed by the real people in this film where the lives of Nanook, his family and friends were focused. Flaherty introduces the frigid settings and harsh environment against the people who are struggling to survive. But he catches the most essential heart of this documentary by presenting these inhabitants to be tough, rigid and adaptable to any situation just to be able to go on living.
Nanook as the leader of the hunting group will go to boundless places and faces the consequences while lurking and fighting their prey for the purpose of feeding their families. Such activities which are worked together by the whole clan are mostly successful using only conventional but primal weapons such as knives, harpoons and traps. Simple life as they have every catch is a feast by all which Flaherty catches in detail. A hunt is completed and another day of hunger has been resolved.
The moving but joyful part of this movie also shows how this tribe is contented even with the reality that the food they need for survival is getting leaner. This film lies behind the standard of an anthropological film in the early days of filmmaking. It is a non-fiction film and no real actors but documented with the real people involved and the exact environment just to present to the world how people on the other side of the globe battles for survival.
The most unique way in this film is that while the Inuits are making great effort to live their lives is enveloped with love that emanates from every families. • In your opinion, what are the most impressive characteristics in this method of filming? This film catches the very essence of life as a form of survival. That the basic necessity of man is not only food, clothing and shelter but of harmony, courage and the will to survive even with the most callous environment. This is one of the best pioneering documentary film ever created by a non-professional in the field of filmmaking.
Flaherty who wrote, directed, shot and edited this most regarded film during the 1920s ignored the hardships, the hunger and extreme weather conditions just to capture the very details of hunting and this makes the film to be most direct, detailed but impressive. Until today, it is considered the first great non-fiction film of its genre. • How is this filmed and what does it express and the effects it created? Nanook of the North is considered a masterpiece because it opened windows to the other side of the world where life has never been harder but remained simple.
It was filmed with intricacy and courage. Notwithstanding the ruthless setting and the distance in following the hunters to make their catch, Flaherty showed that this method of filming clearly expresses sincerity and absence from obscurity as typically seen with other films created just to entertain. This film also demonstrates the innocence and simple joy of the people in dealing with life with the outside while Flaherty took a shot of their interest with his filming.
There are no special effects used but only the proper media and subjects for the filming as well as the real people who do the scenes in their most unadulterated environment. • Arrive at some points and make an argument from certain examples of scenes or shots. The people of the Inuit tribes are small tribes that inhabits Canada’s Hudson Bay region. This region as well as its neighboring areas is known to have severe to extreme conditions of cold weather without the benefits of the sun and influence of the modern world.
This indicates that no other civilizations are coming to mingle or live with them and so they are most unspoiled and untouched by the current technology. They are the perfect subjects for documentaries and Flaherty has made it a point that their lives must be documented without his influence and of other media. The scene when Nanook and his troop hunt for walrus and seal while Flaherty follows them is an indication that these people are obliged to go to distant regions just to hunt food for their families. If not, their families are in threat of starvation.
The use of their harpoons to kill their giant preys and their knives to cut their hides and flesh shows that these are the usual activities of hunting and surviving. The scene where an igloo is constructed within an hour while using flat bones and their knives for the construction is most vivid and agile. There was no indication that every scene was staged as humored by people who may not be satisfied with the documentary. • Focus on two aspects that the film emphasizes. There can be two aspects of this film.
First is that to show the world that man can adapt, live and enjoy life with his family regardless of how minimal or how unkind their situations are. Second is that responsibility relies not only on single member of the family but each of them and the community as a whole. Flaherty showed the world that with these two aspects it does not matter if the conditions are suitable for living or not but living is most precious for those who wanted to live. Such simplicity in life gives the viewer the reality that people out there do not need to live in extravagance, luxury, materialism and vanity but live life as simple as it is.
Although the sense of survival is strong as indicated in this film, it does not break the boundaries of men to be superior more than anything else. For us who have seen this film, we would at first be amazed by how crooked and unconventional everything the people uses and live by but in the end we can realize that this film was made by Flaherty not to amuse us but to capture how our fellow human beings can be able to conquer an environment so harsh but still become blissful even when there is only food to eat (Flaherty, 1922). Flaherty, R. J. (Writer) (1922). Nanook of the North. In R. J. Flaherty (Producer). USA.
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