Thursday, March 23, 2017

Nanook of the North (The Criterion Collection) Spine #33)

December 2, 2010 by admin  
Filed under Fun-movies-documentaries

Nanook of the North (The Criterion Collection) Spine #33)

Robert Flaherty’s classic film tells the story of Inuit hunter Nanook and his family as they struggle to survive in the harsh conditions of Canada’s Hudson Bay region. Enormously popular when released in 1922, Nanook of the North is a cinematic milestone that continues to enchant audiences. Criterion is proud to present the original director’s cut, restored to the proper frame rate and tinted according to Flaherty’s personal print. 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 In 1920, exploring American anthropologist Robert J. Flaherty traveled alone, with camera in hand, to the remote Canadian tundra. There, for over a year, he lived with Eskimos, documenting their daily lives and returning to his editing studio with the raw footage. The result of his rigorous study was groundbreaking; with Nanook of the North, Flaherty pioneered both a new cinematic genre, the narrative documentary, and created a timeless drama of human perseverance under the harshest of conditions. Flaherty obviously understood the charisma of one Eskimo in particular, Nanook, and much of the film’s warmth, humor, and charm come from the mutual respect and sympathy between the filmmaker and his subject. Flaherty possessed an acute eye for simple detail and his presentation of the stark climate and unique culture remains breathtaking. Flaherty also had a knack for editing and manipulation, and along with pioneering a new cinematic form, Nanook too raised all of the problematic ethical dilemmas that still face documentarians. Many of the famous sequences–the seal hunt, the building of the igloo–were actually staged for “authenticity” purposes, thus starting debates on whether documentaries could truly capture truth or reality. Then there’s the presence of the camera and whether that in itself alters or disrupts the natural behavior of its subjects. Yet, despite Flaherty’s tamperings, there’s no denying the film’s power, its wondrous sense of adventure, and the touching portrait of one of cinema’s truly courageous heroes. –Dave McCoy

Rating: (out of reviews)

List Price: $ 29.95

Price: $ 14.99

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