Nanook of the North Reviews

  • Jun 03, 2020

    The first feature-length documentary is a fine (though not unmediated) look into a way of life that has changed significantly since it was made. Taken as a slice of history and also a slice of film history it is well worth the watch. I do wonder what happened to Nanook and his family (I've read he died not long after it was made, in a hunting accident), and whether his family saw any long-term financial benefit from being the 'stars' of the show.

    The first feature-length documentary is a fine (though not unmediated) look into a way of life that has changed significantly since it was made. Taken as a slice of history and also a slice of film history it is well worth the watch. I do wonder what happened to Nanook and his family (I've read he died not long after it was made, in a hunting accident), and whether his family saw any long-term financial benefit from being the 'stars' of the show.

  • Antonius B Super Reviewer
    Oct 17, 2018

    Say what you want about the footage director Robert J. Flaherty gives us of this Inuit group in a rugged part of the Canadian Arctic, that elements of it were staged and it wasn't a pure documentary, but he gives us a pretty incredible insight into a completely different world. Highlights include seeing them build an igloo, complete with window and a light reflector, hunt and kill using traditional methods, and make their way across the barren landscape with their semi-tame dogs. It's also interesting to see the family improbably emerge from the inside of a kayak after crossing a river, one after another, and the mother give her baby a bath by spitting into a fur rag and wiping it on him. I would have loved to have known more about them, e.g. their beliefs, family life, how childbirth was accomplished, etc ... but I was impressed with what I did see.

    Say what you want about the footage director Robert J. Flaherty gives us of this Inuit group in a rugged part of the Canadian Arctic, that elements of it were staged and it wasn't a pure documentary, but he gives us a pretty incredible insight into a completely different world. Highlights include seeing them build an igloo, complete with window and a light reflector, hunt and kill using traditional methods, and make their way across the barren landscape with their semi-tame dogs. It's also interesting to see the family improbably emerge from the inside of a kayak after crossing a river, one after another, and the mother give her baby a bath by spitting into a fur rag and wiping it on him. I would have loved to have known more about them, e.g. their beliefs, family life, how childbirth was accomplished, etc ... but I was impressed with what I did see.

  • Sep 26, 2018

    An early masterpiece in documentary craft, a really moving experience and a harsh one too. It pictures an unforgettable journey with Nanook and his family, and captures all the while all the difficulties and common dangers the Eskimo have to face day into day. The ending, showcasing "the melancholy of the North", dogs wailing and freezing outside of the igloo, the drifter and snow, is a truly mesmerizing and horrifying picture.

    An early masterpiece in documentary craft, a really moving experience and a harsh one too. It pictures an unforgettable journey with Nanook and his family, and captures all the while all the difficulties and common dangers the Eskimo have to face day into day. The ending, showcasing "the melancholy of the North", dogs wailing and freezing outside of the igloo, the drifter and snow, is a truly mesmerizing and horrifying picture.

  • Jan 02, 2018

    For me, this film is contradictory; its intentions are good, as it treats to show how inuits used to live in order to give a message in favour of their classic style of life, with the aim to preserve it from Western civilization. Also, its historical importance as the first nonfiction movie is relevant. However, I am not sure I agree about modifying real life (at least, without clarifying it) to provide the best image and message to your public. From the modern point of view, it is also diffcult to watch, being a silent movie and taking under consdieration how much movies have evolved since them. Anyway, as the first docu-drama, it has something to write down in cinema history.

    For me, this film is contradictory; its intentions are good, as it treats to show how inuits used to live in order to give a message in favour of their classic style of life, with the aim to preserve it from Western civilization. Also, its historical importance as the first nonfiction movie is relevant. However, I am not sure I agree about modifying real life (at least, without clarifying it) to provide the best image and message to your public. From the modern point of view, it is also diffcult to watch, being a silent movie and taking under consdieration how much movies have evolved since them. Anyway, as the first docu-drama, it has something to write down in cinema history.

  • Aug 03, 2017

    Before the rise of Hollywood or Italian Neorealism, there were experimental films. This is was one made on a small budge and even smaller support, yet is now able to live on as one of the most innovative and important film of the silent era.

    Before the rise of Hollywood or Italian Neorealism, there were experimental films. This is was one made on a small budge and even smaller support, yet is now able to live on as one of the most innovative and important film of the silent era.

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    Joseph B Super Reviewer
    Apr 20, 2016

    Robert Flaherty was just fooling around with a camera taking images of the Eskimos that lived around the Hudson Bay in Arctic Canada, he didn't know much about film at the time. He had taken a three week course on cinematography in Rochester, New York, before his third expedition in 1913. This footage was met with enthusiasm but ultimately lost because of a fire. He reshot the footage, but decided to focus the film on one person and his family's struggle to survive in such harsh conditions. That's how "Nanook of the North" was created. This film is often considered the first documentary, but much has been said about the staging of events in the film. Regardless of any staging, it's still a remarkable film that shows just how adaptable humans are to any climate or terrain. At times when they are starving, Nanook finds a way to eat and survive.

    Robert Flaherty was just fooling around with a camera taking images of the Eskimos that lived around the Hudson Bay in Arctic Canada, he didn't know much about film at the time. He had taken a three week course on cinematography in Rochester, New York, before his third expedition in 1913. This footage was met with enthusiasm but ultimately lost because of a fire. He reshot the footage, but decided to focus the film on one person and his family's struggle to survive in such harsh conditions. That's how "Nanook of the North" was created. This film is often considered the first documentary, but much has been said about the staging of events in the film. Regardless of any staging, it's still a remarkable film that shows just how adaptable humans are to any climate or terrain. At times when they are starving, Nanook finds a way to eat and survive.

  • Apr 06, 2016

    Early silent documentary about the harsh life of the Eskimo in Canada. The subjects of the film are Nanook and his family, who live in the harshest of conditions and must live off of what they can hunt. While it has sequences that were staged, they still hunt a walrus and seal in this movie. A lot of it is real, even if certain elements were faked to get the point across. The doc was in many ways trying to show what the Eskimo life would have been like not too long before the film was actually made, but by the time the film was made, they were hunting with guns and new what records were. It is still a nice time capsule of a bygone world.

    Early silent documentary about the harsh life of the Eskimo in Canada. The subjects of the film are Nanook and his family, who live in the harshest of conditions and must live off of what they can hunt. While it has sequences that were staged, they still hunt a walrus and seal in this movie. A lot of it is real, even if certain elements were faked to get the point across. The doc was in many ways trying to show what the Eskimo life would have been like not too long before the film was actually made, but by the time the film was made, they were hunting with guns and new what records were. It is still a nice time capsule of a bygone world.

  • Dec 19, 2015

    Very interesting movie, I couldn't believe it was filmed in 1922. At some point of this movie, it makes me think on how the "inuits" could "make love" living with their shared small igloos below 0 degrees... ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mxAceec8DxI ) Maybe Frank Zappa could have an idea...

    Very interesting movie, I couldn't believe it was filmed in 1922. At some point of this movie, it makes me think on how the "inuits" could "make love" living with their shared small igloos below 0 degrees... ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mxAceec8DxI ) Maybe Frank Zappa could have an idea...

  • Aug 17, 2015

    Great filmmaker Robert J. Flaherty's most famous and acclaimed film. It is one of the most important and influential films of all time, not only in the field of documentary filmmaking. Other than it's importance, "Nanook of the North" has many interesting scenes of eskimo life.

    Great filmmaker Robert J. Flaherty's most famous and acclaimed film. It is one of the most important and influential films of all time, not only in the field of documentary filmmaking. Other than it's importance, "Nanook of the North" has many interesting scenes of eskimo life.

  • May 27, 2015

    Robert Flaherty nos presenta el primer gran "documental" en la historia del cine: un delicado y a la vez poderoso relato sobre Nanook, un esquimal que vive con su familia en la bahía de Hudson del Canadá. Flaherty logra en este estudio sobre la vida de este hombre, no solo explorar sino revelar.

    Robert Flaherty nos presenta el primer gran "documental" en la historia del cine: un delicado y a la vez poderoso relato sobre Nanook, un esquimal que vive con su familia en la bahía de Hudson del Canadá. Flaherty logra en este estudio sobre la vida de este hombre, no solo explorar sino revelar.