Shot on digital video, this version of an old Inuit legend tells of the damage done when a cruel shaman unleashes a malevolent spirit in the midst of an Inuit community. Atanarjuat, the Fast Runner, and Amaqjuaq, the Strong One, are the two sons of Tulimaq, a man who was originally intended to become community leader, but who lost his place after the intervention of the shaman. When Atanarjuat wins the hand of Atuat from rival suitor Oki, the son of the community leader installed by the evil shaman, this continues the dispute between the two families and leads to further discord. Oki uses his sister Puja to deceive Atanarjuat and mount an attack on the camp he shares with his brother Amaqjuaq; the Fast Runner luckily survives the onslaught, but will he be able to find a way to bring an end to this legacy of violence?
An extraordinary film - written, produced and acted by Innuit people. It's hard to get into because the start of the film does not establish well enough the idea that a curse has been visited on a native Innuit community (in a long ago historical period), so it's hard to understand what is going on at first - or who anyone is. It only really takes off when the two sons of one of the families that has been cursed grow up. The film is very long but it's worth hanging in there as it will captivate you soon enough. It has some of the most spectacular visuals you could ever hope to see and very interesting acting by a mixture of professional actors and local talent. It successfully integrates magic realism into a classic narrative arc and there is one scene which is simply astounding and I still don't know how the actor survived the filming of it - but I won't give it away. I want everyone to see this film but I suspect it really wotks best on a large screen. I saw it in a cinema first time round and was mesmerised - I didn't notice the length. I have always wanted it on DVD but when I tried to watch the DVD on a computer screen it did not have the same power to transfix. I imagine this is because the incredible white infinity of the landscape needs scaled up to fully appreciate it. My friends then projected it on a large wall and it was brilliant. We watched it as a group over New Year - as if we were in a cinema. We are still talking about it. A great buy.
I first saw this film many years ago, and its power stayed with me. I was pleased to find it on Amazon, but unfortunately the quality of the disc is poor, and it jumps, eliminating some scenes. If you can get a good copy, I highly recommend the film.
Based on an ancient Inuit tale, it deals with many of the archetypes of great tragedy: filial betrayal, treacherous marital relationships, and the power of the shaman. Plus wonderful images of the ice, and the courage of the naked runner
It was a bit of a struggle to get into it at the beginning and I found myself wondering just who was doing what to whom. It moves at a snail's pace (but that's part of its charm) and it goes on for nearly three hours but none of that time is wasted. It provides a stunning observation of inuit culture and tradition, especially on how they deal with disputes and legal issues. Just buy a bigger bag of popcorn and settle in for a marathon session - it's well worth it
I have actually met the director in Northern Canada at the premiere of this movie in Whitehorse, Yukon. Henry is a most unassuming Inuit, who will make and already has made many movies with and about his people. The Inuit are a truly modern and early on discovered the use and advantage of the internet. This movie shows the old ways and gives the viewer a total feeling of a cold climate and the 'people's survival in it. Wanna know more about the Inuit and Northern climate and landscape, this is your movie!!