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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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Appendix

Extract

The intertitles of the silent film (1998 version) The intertitles of the silent version of Nanook are according to the restored version of the film on the DVD by Criterion Collection. The opening credits are included. Revillon Frères present Nanook of the North. A story of life and love in the actual arctic. Produced by Robert J. Flaherty, F.R.G.S. Pathépicture The mysterious Barren Lands – desolate, boulder-strewn, wind-swept – il- limitable spaceswhich top the world. The sterility of the soil and the rigor of the climate no other race could survive; yet here, utterly dependent upon animal life, which is their sole source of food, live the most cheerful people in all the world – the fearless, lovable, happy-go-lucky Eskimo. The picture concerns the life of one Nanook (The Bear), his family and little band of followers, ‘Itivimuits’ of Hopewell Sound, Northern Ungava, through whose kindliness, faithfulness and patience this film was made. [Map showing the area in accordance to main cities like New York and Chicago.] The hunting ground of Nanook and his followers is a little kingdom in size – nearly as large as England, yet occupied by less than three hundred souls. [Map of the area where Nanook and his family lives.] Chief of the ‘Itivimuits’ and as a great hunter famous through all Ungava – Nanook, The Bear. Nyla – The smiling one. Nanook comes to prepare for the summer journey down river to the trade post of the white man and to the salmon and walrus fishing grounds at...

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