Nanook of the North vs Exile

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Anna Harris
February 14, 2013
Rights to Representation
First Essay Assignment
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Before taking this class, I didn’t realize there existed a full-length documentary about the Inuit, let alone two. After all, having grown up in the States, the only native group I’ve ever known about has been the Native American Indians. Of course, I’d heard of the eskimo before, but I knew nothing about them besides the fact that they hunted seal and lived in igloos. So, after watching Nanook of the North and Exiled, I know a lot more about the inuit than I originally did. Both films were very informative, but very different. Nanook of the North is the more comical of the two is has a very cheery vibe to it. Of course, Robert Flaherty thought that the inuit were a happy-go-lucky group of people, so it makes sense that the film he made based on them would be so bright. The film is a basic description of everyday life for the Inuit. Flaherty shows the way they travel and hunt, and manages to keep the film bright even when the family is starving. The one problem the film has is the fact that it isn’t real. Nanook and his family are all actors, the most Eskimo-like people Flaherty could find. Knowing that everything was staged took away from the authenticity of the film for me. Certain scenes, like the scene with the phonograph, just seemed silly and fake to me. I can’t blame Robert for any of this. After all, he did manage to make an informative film that at least looks authentic, despite the fact that the traditions in the film were no longer being practiced. On top of that, he captured the stunning landscapes of that corner of the world that many people in the 1920s had never seen before. I also enjoyed the soundtrack quite a bit. In my opinion, one of the most important features in silent movies is the background music because people nowadays are so accustomed to films with sound. I think the music was lovely, and appropriate in each scene. The second film,...
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