Analysis Of The Film ' Nanook Of The North ' By Robert Flaherty

1498 Words Oct 5th, 2016 6 Pages
Robert Flaherty is cited in creating the first documentary, with Nanook of the North, made in 1922, this film was wildly successful and generated obsession around this new genre documenting real people. Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson eventually adapted this filmic practice as a tool for documenting cultures for scientific purposes, founding the field of visual anthropology. Flaherty and Mead’s influence can be tracked to filmmaker John Marshall, who challenged the paradigms of spectacle and science by developing his own distinct style of film throughout his prolonged career. This transitional arch can be tracked through his films The Hunters, A Marriage Argument, and N!ai, A story of a !Kung Woman, where his distinct style becomes recognizable through his emphasis of political implications, reflexivity, and a commitment to observational film.
Flaherty is often credited for creating the “first documentary” with Nanook of the North in 1922, however this film epitomizes spectacle filming practice as well as romantic primitivism. Robert Flaherty created a film he knew people would want to see, rather than creating a scientific documentation of the Inuit people. He used an example of a nuclear family to appeal to white Americans, romanticizing the simple Inuit, who is so separated from the Euro American way of life. The most drastic example of this illusion of separation Flaherty is attempting to establish is when Nanook foolishly bites the gramophone as he can’t find where…

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