Flaherty’s Intent for “Nanook Of The North”

Why does Flaherty begin the film the way he does? How does this set up the rest of the film?

Nanook: (Nanook Of The North, 1922, by Robert J. Flaherty)

Flaherty Sets up the beginning of the film to show two things, one, the setting or land he is in, we start looking at the ocean, assumingly heading towards Nanook’s Tribe, this gives us a feeling of distance, like we’re going far away. Two, It’s to show how barren the landscape is. I think that this can, and for some people, does set up the rest of the film in a way that we can only perceive the inuit people to be less civilized and more savage because it makes them seem like a distant culture struggling to survive.

 

How does Flaherty end the film? How does this relate to its beginning?

Flaherty ends the film by showing multiple shots of the group huddled together for warmth, as well as the dogs outside doing the same thing. I’m not sure if this is the intended meaning, but it could relate the the beginning of the film because as I stated earlier, we can only perceive the inuit people to be less civilized and more savage and now, at the end, he is possibly comparing them to the dogs, thusly dehumanizing them.

How are relationships depicted?

Contrary to my belief that Flaherty is trying to make the inuit people look more savage, he depicts the tribe to be very loving and fairly representative of a modern family (or at least the utopian ideal of that) Nanook, the father, goes and hunts for the family while the mother watches over the kids, and the son is learning to be a great hunter like his dad. Not to different than how we depict most families today.

What does the editing of the film reveal about Flaherty’s intent?

Flaherty clearly intended to depict these people in a more savage way, whether or not it was out of spite, or simply to get the information out in a more digestible way for the average 1920’s American, im not certain, but because we know he had to re enact everything, we can assume he took some creative liberties and changed things, thusly, this film cannot be unbiased. However I think it’s safe to say that Flaherty, while sometimes deeming in his depiction of the inuits, overall showed them as a proud, loving group of skilled hunters with a vastly different yet interesting culture.