Robert Flaherty was commissioned by the Revillon Fur Company to make an advertising film, and the result of his visit to the Hudson Bay territory of Canada was “Nanook of the North”. It is difficult to realise that Flaherty had to work entirely alone and without the advantages of panchromatic stock. His use of realist material to present not a story but rather a dramatic theme of man’s struggle with his environment opened up a new realm of film-making. It was the first documentary film in the modern sense. The film shows Nanook, the Eskimo hunter, preparing with his family for the summer, his meeting with the white trader, catching walruses, seals and foxes, building an igloo, training his children in the arts of hunting, breaking camp, and finally returning through a wild storm to safety and rest in an old igloo.
Robert Joseph Flaherty
Black and White