December 01, 2009

NY Times reviews Before Tomorrow

Before Tomorrow (2008)

Ancient Inuit Wisdom as Sustenance in Dire Times

By Stephen Holden“Before Tomorrow” is set in 1840 at the perilous moment when white explorers with their strange customs and implements began encroaching on the far north territory occupied by Inuit tribes that had little or no contact with the outside world. This visually transfixing movie is the third in a trilogy that began with the ancient Inuit folk tale “The Fast Runner” (“Atanarjuat”) and continued with “The Journals of Knud Rasmussen,” set in the early 1920s.

Directed by Marie-Hélène Cousineau and Madeline Piujuq Ivalu and based on a novel by the Danish writer Jorn Riel, the movie is a product of Arnait Video Productions, the Women’s Video Workshop of Igloolik. It is the only film in this series to focus on women’s roles as storytellers and repositories of folk wisdom; its perspective might be described as Inuit feminist.
Alas, Holden doesn't think the film was well-executed:“Before Tomorrow” makes awkward narrative leaps, and leaves much unexplained. Once the pair are in the cave, we see little of the grueling rituals of their daily struggle. Only once does Maniq complain of the cold.

“Before Tomorrow” is frustratingly sketchy partly because it is not finally a survival tale but a mystical evocation of the power of Inuit mythology, and how the passing down of ancient wisdom can sustain the human spirit in the direst circumstances. But the unanswered questions still nag.
Comment:  Holden says Atanarujuat (The Fast Runner) is the strongest of Zacharias Kunuk three Inuit films. I thought The Fast Runner was only good, not great. That doesn't bode well for Before Tomorrow.

For more on the subject, see Preview of Before Tomorrow and The Best Indian Movies.

Below:  "Madeline Piujuq Ivalu, left, and Paul-Dylan Ivalu in 'Before Tomorrow,' which focuses on women's roles as storytellers."

No comments: