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Nanook of the North

1922 / 78m - USA
Nanook of the North poster

A landmark in the documentary genre. It's handy that the film comes with its own little Wikipedia page before the actual documentary footage starts, explaining the circumstances of how this film was made. With that Flaherty counters at least some of the critique about parts of Nanook being staged. Whether you'll fully trust his arguments is up to you of course.

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Nanook of the North follows the lives of a small community of Eskimos, with Nanook himself a symbol for his people. Flaherty is clearly more than fly on the wall here, but considering the footage he came back with that's rather easy to forgive. The hunts, the barren living conditions and the crafting of an igloo all feel like genuine moments.

Though relatively short, the film does get a little repetitive after a while. And even though it's a well-made documentary, the technical limitations of that time stand in the way of truly capturing the spirit of the North. Still, for people like me who haven't seen too many films/documentaries about Eskimo tribes, there's definitely some worth here.