An Eskimo Role.
"Who do ye think ye are?...Nanook o' the north?"
I always remember being asked that as a wean. Obviously I had no idea what the adults meant, apart from the fact that I was wearing my 'Snorkel' parka jacket, cooried up like a wee Eskimo. It wasn't until adulthood that I found out Nanook was actually a real person!
Nanook (inuit for 'polar bear'), starred with his 'family' in the 1922 documentary 'Nanook Of The North', by American film maker Robert J Flaherty.
Filmed in the Canadian tundra, where the term 'Inuit' is preferred over 'Eskimo', it details the daily life of Nanook and his family - a simple tale of humanity versus nature...
...or was it?
On closer inspection 'Nanook Of The North' seems to be the first case of what the television execs would now call 'augmented reality', in the way that scenes would be set up, and local people would be cast to make up a 'screen family'. In fact even Nanook's real name was Allakariallak.
Cast members in hunting scenes were dissuaded from using rifles - rather that more primitive tools like spears would show better on camera and carry on that 'simple life' message of the film.
At the end of the film when Nanook and family are hurriedly building a shelter lest they die from the elements, it was later revealed that a half shelter had already been built, with one side cut away so that the sun could light the interior and the camera could get a great shot.
But, it's still a fascinating watch, and an inspiration for lots of other documentarists, including the Scottish born John Grierson who, after meeting Flaherty in Hollywood, went on to make 'Drifters' in 1929 - a film about the work of the North Sea herring fishermen. (i'll write a wee post about Grierson in the near future about his work in the UK and Canada).
If you'd like to know more about Nanook Of The North' check out these websites -
Have a creative day, and i'll see ye tomorra!
Whit's he up tae noo?
The blog posts of David Brodie, a Scottish artist based near Glasgow.