Nanook

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In Nanook of the North, both the idea of reproduction and representation come into play. The documentary is able to use both of the ideas of film Scholar Bill Nichols in order to help demonstrate the struggles that Nanook, an Inuk tribesman from the Canadian Arctic, and his family must go through in order to survive. While the producer of the film, Robert J. Flaherty, attempts to make an accurate representation of how the Inuk live, he appears to make part of the film a reproduction by modifying certain scenes such as not allowing Nanook to hunt with a gun, but instead hunt with a spear. As the film continues, Flaherty uses certain filming tactics to make the movie appear more as a representation. Flaherty uses many different perspectives, angles, and scene portrayal to demonstrate what Nanook must go through in order to survive in the Canadian Arctic.

Immediately from the beginning of the film, from both the narrative screen shots and the background music brings the question of “whose perspective are we watching the movie from”. Right from the beginning, we are put in a situation in which we are left with feeling as though we are either going to be there with Nanook, experiencing his emotions or either as an outsider observing his culture. As the film continues we begin to see both close up shots and wide far shots in order to give us, the viewers, a better connection with Nanook and also letting us feel the gritty conditions that surround him. With the close up shots, we are introduced to Nanook’s family and witness from the emotion on his face, the love and dedication that he has for his family. At the same time with the wide far shots, we are introduced to the cold harsh conditions of the snow and wind that he must protect himself and his family from.

Through different scenes throughout the film, the viewer is able experience what Nichols describes as ‘a representation’. The way that we experience this is through Flaherty’s filming of scenes and...
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