Roberty Flaherty’s masterpiece ‘Nanook Of The North’ is the first successful documentary ever made. By using variety of shots, the set and other cinematic techniques, Flaherty tells a beautiful story about a man and how he depends on nature and the environment that surrounds him.
This film is still listed in documentary category, even though we can see long and short takes, camera angles (mostly normal camera height) and Flaherty himself acknowledged that some shots were staged. However, the main purpose of why this film was made was to make a historical record, to show a daily routine of the Eskimo tribes and that is what it makes this film a part of documentary list.
It’s amazing how Flaherty even in really harsh environment was able to use pans and tilts. Camera’s work was beautiful. Different types of shots like close-ups that Flaherty used, take us closer to Nanook’s and his family’s lives and that lets the audience to connect with the characters more easily. With long shots, Flaherty showed us fishing scenes that depicted a very unique set and other daily routine jobs, however by using extreme wide shots, he fabulously conveyed the basic meaning of the film. Nannok with his family who looked quite heroic in close-ups suddenly turns into powerless small tiny black dots in the large, white environment. Long takes (the longest one was over 3 minutes) lets us feel the true live action, as cuts do not interfere with event.
No lights were used on set, however an interesting thing was in the igloo where interior shots were shot, the walls were partly removed, as the igloo was cross-sectioned for filmmaking.
Melancholic music perfectly reflected the mood and the nature of the film. It conveyed the emotions but let the viewer still focus more on the film and pictures. Overall, it didn’t make any distractions so it’s a positive point as well.