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«Nanook of the North» From 1922 to Today

The Famous Arctic Documentary and Its Afterlife

Roswitha Skare

Robert Flaherty’s Nanook of the North is one of the best-known documentaries of the silent era and has remained well-known throughout the world ever since its release in 1922. This study takes as its point of departure the changes Nanook underwent from its premiere at the New York Capitol on June 11, 1922, to the sound version of 1947, the film’s restoration in the 1970s, and later editions on different platforms. Accordingly, the book focuses on the different versions and editions of the film and the significant ways in which the different elements surrounding the film influence our perception.

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List of Illustrations ...............................................................................................7 Acknowledgments ..............................................................................................11 1. Introduction ......................................................................................................13 1.1 Genette’s concept of the Paratext ............................................................15 1.2 Nanook of the North (USA, 1922/1947/1976/1998) ........................18 1.3 The search for the original ........................................................................20 2. Ready for Triumph? – Nanook’s Path to Broadway ..................23 2.1 “First I was an explorer; then I was an artist.” ...................................23 2.2 Previewings of Nanook ..............................................................................28 2.3 Promotional material ..................................................................................31 3. “Our True Intent Is All for Your Delight” – Nanook’s Premiere at the Capitol Theatre ......................................41 3.1 Nanook as part of a larger unit ...............................................................43 3.2 Opening sequence, film music and intertitles.......................................51 4. Nanook’s Journey Across the Country ..............................................65 5. From the Silent Film to the Sound Version ......................................87 5.1 Narration and intertitles ............................................................................89 5.2 Film music .....................................................................................................98 5.3 Promotional material ............................................................................... 100 6. Nanook Restored: The Original Director’s Cut? ...................... 109 6.1 The 1976 version ...................................................................................... 111 6.2 The 1998 version ...................................................................................... 118 67. The many Nanooks of the North ....................................................... 133 8. Bibliography .................................................................................................. 139 Appendix .............................................................................................................. 147 The intertitles of the silent film (1998 version) ........................................ 147 Transcription of the narration by Ralph Schoolman ............................. 152

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