Saturday, November 8, 2008

Nanook of the North - A Documentary

It doesn't always work well for me to randomly select books or DVDs off the shelf of the library. I take them home and start reading them (the books) or check for online information (the DVDs) and find out that they had better just make a trip back to the library as soon as possible.

Not so with "Nanook of the North". I picked up Nanook b/c it looked interesting and educational...or educational but interesting. I was thinking of my two little homeschoolers who love to watch movies - so if I can get them something educational on DVD - we are all happy.

Since I didn't know anything about Nanook before turning it on (other than glancing at the DVD case) - I guess I was too lazy to check IMDB - I thought I'd better sit down and watch at least part of it with the kids.

"Nanook of the North" is the story of a family of Eskimos (Inuit I suppose is the politically correct term but way back in 1922'ish when the movie was filmed they were probably referred to as Eskimos) up north in Canada. Now for those who's knowledge of Canada is fairly limited due to their American schooling (or maybe even due to their Canadian schooling) - not all of Canada is a "frozen wasteland". Not all Canadians live in igloos, drive snowmobiles and wear toques. I can safely say that in my 26 yrs of life in Canada I did not once, consume whale blubber or raw meat. I actually remember a few days in Canada when it was warm enough to go without a parka, in July.

Well Nanook and his family actually did live in a "frozen wasteland" section of Canada - up around Hudson Bay.

The movie is a silent movie - so kind of hard for kids that can't read or can't read very fast.

The kids and I thoroughly enjoyed Nanook. Fun to watch papa build an igloo, kill fish with his mouth and capture a walrus. Fortunately (unfortunately?) it was black and white or the killing/eating scenes might make one not want to eat their supper.

The movie was about 80 minutes.

AFTER we watched the movie THEN I decided to see what I could learn about Nanook online.


"Flaherty has been criticized for deceptively portraying staged events as reality. Much of the action was staged and gives an inaccurate view of real Inuit life during the early 20th century."

I still think the documentary was fun to watch and I still think it was educational for the this was the way the Inuit would have lived prior to the early 20th century. The people were real, they really did live there and the hunting scenes were real.

Both children wanted to watch the movie a second time with their dad, they enjoyed it so much (hmm or maybe they just wanted to stay up later). The girl said "I feel differently about this movie now" after I told them about the criticisms I read. Sometimes ignorance is bliss. But ignorance isn't educational.

It is amazing to think of how the Inuit and other "hunter/gatherers" and even pioneers - worked all day just to survive. They had little and were not too concerned with amassing great amounts of goods - they were just concerned with where their next meal was going to come from. There wasn't much time for rest and relaxation...


CanadianGrandma said...

I have seen this documentary and I found it "so-so". By the way, we got our first snowfall two days ago. It is here to stay I'm afraid.What I don't like is the ice beneath the snow...I'm waiting for the streets to be sanded so I can do some shopping. Sigh!