Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Nanook of the North (1922)
Unless I'm mistaken, this is our first silent film! Not by a long shot our first doc (ah, seems like only yesterday, Battle of San Pietro), but one that seems remarkably topical despite nearing its centennial. This movie is considered the first feature-length documentary, but there are those who would put scare quotes around that designation. Robert J. Flaherty, who filmed the account of an Inuit family trying to survive in the Canadian arctic, apparently staged several scenes, making "Nanook" the Real World/Bachelorette/Jersey Shore of its day, and Flaherty the James Frey of his. Not sure if the movie itself will be as interesting and provocative as the controversy surrounding its filming, but I think definitely worth a view, though I suspect it's going to be pretty racist. And its the second movie in a row to have a family anecdote! When I was a little kid visiting the grandparents in Colorado during the winter, my aunt would tell me I looked like "Nanook of the North" when I was all bundled up to go outside to play. It was only recently (VERY recently) that I realized the name was the title of a film and not something she made up.