Monday, January 29, 2007

Intermezzo: Atanarjuat, the Film

All pictures in this post and text are from the original film-website: www.atanarjuat.com

Missed on TV: while the kayakers were into greenlandstyle-rolling, on Dutch television (NL2, 28-1-2007, 00:15-02.50 uur) the film Atarnajuat was broadcasted. This is no sure Qajaq-film but a very fascinating tribute to Inuit culture. It's also available on DVD, or perhaps you can see it afterwards on "uitzendinggemist.nl"?
The qayaq
In the film, Atanarjuat paddles to shore in this qajaq (one-man canoe), toward his summer camp and his wife Atuat, who is now expecting their son.
The qajaq was re-constructed by John MacDonald of the Igloolik Research Institute based on detailed structural drawings of a qajaq in the Inuit collection at the British Museum. The drawing, by Michael Morgan, was paid for by Morton and Estelle Sosland.
The qajaq in the museum is almost 200 years old and actually comes from the region of Igloolik, taken to England by the Parry Expedition of 1822-23. The original structure consists of a whalebone frame and a skin-covering attached with braided sinew.


The legend behind the film Legend on the land
Igloolik, "place of houses," in the eastern arctic wilderness at the dawn of the first millenium.
Evil in the form of a mysterious, unknown shaman enters a small community of nomadic Inuit and upsets its balance and spirit of cooperation. The stranger leaves behind a lingering curse of bitterness and discord: after the camp leader Kumaglak is murdered, the new leader Sauri drives his old rival Tulimaq down through mistreatment and ridicule.
Years pass.
Power begins to change when the resentful Tulimaq has two sons - Amaqjuaq, the Strong One, and Atanarjuat, the Fast Runner. As the camp's best hunters they provoke jealousy and rage in their rival, Oki, the leader's ill-tempered son.
When Atanarjuat wins away Oki's promised wife-to-be, the beautiful Atuat, in a head punching competition, Oki vows to get even.
Egged on by his intimidating father, Oki and his friends plot to murder both brothers while they sleep. Amaqjuaq is speared through their tent and killed, but Atanarjuat miraculously escapes, running naked for his life across the spring sea ice.
Eluding his pursuers with supernatural help, Atanarjuat is hidden and nursed back to health by an old couple who themselves fled the evil camp years before.
After an inner struggle to reclaim his spiritual path, and with the guidance of his elder advisor, Atanarjuat learns to face both natural and supernatural enemies, and heads home to rescue his family. Will he continue the bloody cycle of revenge, or restore harmony to the community?
Atanarjuat - The Fast Runner is based on an ancient Inuit legend which takes place in the area around Igloolik.

3 comments:

Michael said...

This film won a prize at the Cannes film festival when it first came out. Great movie. Isuma's latest film is now out, a story about Knud Rasmussen's trip through Igloolik in the 1920's.

The qajaq John made for the film, while based on drawings of an original boat, was actually made of fiberglass as no one in Igloolik today could remember how to build a traditional qajaq like it.

bonnie said...

Oh, that was a wonderful movie!

Hans said...

Hi Michael and Bonnie!
I am looking forward to see the movie myself. Missed it this weekend, but one of my kayaking-mates made a copy on video for me.
Didn't know about the fiberglass qayak. A bit disappointing, they weren't able to get a boat builder to coach the people in Igloolik? Could have been a nice workshop..

greetings, Hans