Saturday, June 11, 2016

Atanarjurat, The Fast Runner

This amazing movie was made in 2002; I saw it way back then and saw it again yesterday.  Made in a Inuit village (area) in Canada with an entirely Inuit cast and mostly crew; this almost-three-hour movie tells an ancient legend updated to modern time (such as they are in that Arctic area where people live as they've lived hundreds or thousands of years. 

It is a story of three bad (selfish, murderous) members of the group, and how everyone survives (except the murdered man) and how they are finally expelled so the others can live as before.  The women are as strong as the men although the society is divided between the men who hunt and the women who prepare food and the skins of animals for clothing. At the base of the story is the ancient story of two brothers and one woman.  In the midst of the tale is the utterly unforgettable scene everyone who sees this movie finds unforgettable. 

When the evil ones ambush two men sleeping in a summer tent, one is murdered and the other, Atanarjurat (the fast runner of the title) flees, naked across the ice and the melted snow puddles with the three in pursuit. He manages to outrun them, collapses eventually and is saved by a small family  who are gathering bird eggs. He stays with them (his feet are badly cut up) for a season it seems and then returns to right the situation.

Much about this movie is ethnographic, we see an igloo being built, we hear songs and see a native dance with various people taking part while the group sings to the rhythm of a single drum. The showing of the film to a small group who take the usual documentary film class was the suggestion of a member of the group who has had a particular interest in the Inuit, knows their history and collected carvings and prints made by the group in Cape Dorset in the Canadian province now called Nunavut (I think that's the spelling).  The CD was available through the Massachusetts library system and I assume it is available to those who might want to watch it.


barbara judge said...

June -- Your review was absolutely enticing. I am able to place a purchase request for the CD through my library (they didn't have access to it locally). So in the next week or so I will have my order in and hopefully it will soon be here! thanks again -- barbara

June Calender said...

I think you'll find it as amazing as I did. I'd love to know hour reaction.