God, I found this movie unpleasant. When I wasn't feeling bad for the fish and the fox and the walrus and the seal, I was feeling bad for the dogs. Guess who I wasn't feeling bad for? Yep, Nanook himself and his family. Either I'm a sociopath or the film doesn't do a super good job establishing any sort of connection with the subject of the documentary. It could really go either way.
I understand why this is on the list--it's the first documentary ever, perhaps. And some of the shots of the landscape are really pretty, and it was interesting to see the igloo get made. But I would have liked to hear a bit more about what Nanook and his family talked about. Does he just come home and say, "Well, killed a great polar bear in hand-to-hand combat using only my harpoon today. What did you and the kids do?"
I think it's probably a good thing that the director showed the film to his subjects, but it probably shot any sort of objectivity straight to hell. I don't really mind that some scenes were staged--the presence of a camera alone alters what is being filmed--but I don't feel like I learned that much about a) Inuit culture or b) this man and how he and his family scrape a life out of this wilderness. And shouldn't that be the point?
Oh, I did like the puppies. And I thought it was sort of ballsy to end the film with the outright suggestion that everyone is about to die of exposure, and the film crew is just letting the cameras roll.