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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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My exploration of Robert J. Flaherty’s Nanook of the North has been a long but fascinating journey. Many people and institutions have offered encouragement, advice, and practical help along the way. This study is based on archive material accessed with the assistance and expertise of archivists and librarians at several institutions. In particular, I would like to acknowledge those at the Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Columbia University in the City of New York and at the University Li- brary at UiT The Arctic University of Norway, my home institution. I also would like to thank the British Film Institute (London, UK) and the Film Library at the Museum of Modern Art (NYC, USA) for providing research viewings. A special thank goes to Jack Coogan, director of the Robert and Frances Flaherty Study Center (Claremont, CA, USA) for providing access to the sound version of Nanook and other material, and for his patience in answering my questions. Thanks also to The Flaherty International Film Seminars (NYC, USA) for allowing me to reproduce the archive material in this book. Financial support was provided at various stages of this project by the Faculty of Humanities, Social Science and Education and the Institute for Culture and Literature at UiT The Arctic University of Norway. Colleagues and friends have provided feedback on different versions of this manuscript and on related articles published during the last years. Special thanks to my colleagues in Documentation Studies, to the members of the research group Arctic Modernities at...

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