May 16, 2011

How Atanarjuat was filmed

Around the World in 24 Frames 05.16.11:  Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner

By Len ArchibaldThe goals of the film were first to show how for thousands of years Inuit communities had survived and thrived in the Arctic, and second to introduce the new storytelling medium of film to help Inuit communities survive long into the future. Achieving historical accuracy was paramount to the production. According to anthropologist Bernard Saladin d'Anglure the biggest challenge was resurrecting the beliefs and practice of shamanism, "the major frame of reference for Inuit life." Research into historical sources—often the journals of European explorers—provided the basis for the reconstruction of clothes and customs. Elders were consulted every step of the way.

Writer Paul Apak Angilirq, director Zacharias Kunuk, and many others on the production team had heard the Atanarjuat legend when they were young. Over the course of five years, Angilirq interviewed eight elders for their versions of the story and combined them into one treatment. The final script was developed by the team of Angilirq, Norman Cohn (producer and cinematographer), Zacharias Kunuk (director), Herve Paniaq (tribal elder), and Pauloosie Qulitalik (tribal elder, who also plays the shaman Qulitalik). Angilirq died of cancer during film production in 1998. The last version of his Inuktitut screenplay is in the book Atanarjuat, side by side with a version by Cohn that appears to be a precursor to the final English script. Cohn explained, "In the final edited version of the film, sometimes the actors are speaking the lines from Apak's script and we are subtitling them with the lines from mine."

Despite the emphasis on accuracy, the film takes liberties with the original Inuit myth: "At the film's core is a crucial lie," wrote Justin Shubow in The American Prospect Online, which is that the original legend ended in a revenge killing, whereas in the film Atanarjuat stops short of shedding blood. "A message more fitting for our times," explained director Zacharias Kunuk.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see The Best Indian Movies.

1 comment:

L.E. Falcone said...

I love this movie.

That is all. :)