Nanook Of the North
Original Live Score by S!nk
Centred on the lifestyle of the titular Inuk and his family, Robert Flaherty’s filmic examination of Inuit culture in the icy Canadian Arctic frontier came at a time before the concept of ‘documentary’ had even been solidified.
This is a story of one indomitable human, undaunted in the face of the most extreme conditions of hunger and cold, improvising with scant resources to carve a life that, if short, is radiant with joy. In the opening title cards of the film we learn that Nanook – Eskimo, protagonist, great bear, hero, hunter, family man – subsequently ‘ventured into the interior hoping for deer and starved to death’. In this light the film that follows; as shining and ephemeral as his life, not to say his way of life; may serve as an epitaph. Though created nearly a century ago its microcosmic struggle presents an increasingly apt metaphor for the contemporary challenges faced by humanity due to our growing global environmental instability.
S!nk present a new live musical score which seeks to juxtapose a sense of pervading and overwhelming environmental harshness with the humorous and resourceful spirits, captured through the admiring lens of this protean documentary film-maker, who inhabit it. As the film progresses, heavier electronic sound-elements underpinning the enormous weight of environmental burden find synthesis with the improvised ‘found sounds’ made using, amongst other items, ice, bone and leather with which we endeavour to describe the lightness, ingenuity and humanity – by turns comical and tragic – of Nanook and his family.
During the making of this film lots of animals were killed and eaten.
Nanook of the North was listed as the seventh best documentary of all time in Sight & Sound’s 2014 poll