Cover image for Nanook of the North
Nanook of the North
Flaherty, Robert Joseph, 1884-1951.
Publication Information:
Claremont, Calif. : Criterion Collection, [1998]

Physical Description:
1 videodisc (79 min.) : black and white ; 4 3/4 in.
Presents a documentary on the life of an Eskimo family pitting their strength against a vast and inhospitable Arctic. Juxtaposes their struggle for survival against the elements with the warmth of the little family as they go about their daily affairs.
General Note:
Originally produced in 1922 as a silent motion picture.

Based on the book: My Eskimo friends / by Robert Flaherty.

Digital transfer, remastered at the visually correct speed ; orchestral score by silent film music specialist Timothy Brock ; excerpts from the 1958 documentary: Flaherty and film : Mrs. Frances Flaherty remembers Nanook of the North (8 min.) ; stills gallery of Flaherty's life in the Arctic.

For specific features see interactive menu.
Reading Level:
Not rated.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E99.E7 N2 1998V Adult DVD Central Library

On Order

Central Library1Received on 4/21/10



Seminal documentary about an Eskimo/Inuit and the day-to-day life of his family. This edition includes the following supplements: excerpts from the television documentary Flaherty and Film, featuring interviews with the filmmaker's widow and Nanook co-editor Frances Flaherty ; stills gallery of Flaherty's photographs of life in the Arctic.


Nanook of the North is regarded as the first significant nonfiction feature, made in the days before the term "documentary" had even been coined. Filmmaker Robert Flaherty had lived among the Eskimos in Canada for many years as a prospector and explorer, and he had shot some footage of them on an informal basis before he decided to make a more formal record of their daily lives. Financing was provided by Revillion Freres, a French fur company with an outpost on the shores of Hudson Bay. Filming took place between August 1920, and August 1921, mostly on the Ungava Peninsula of Hudson Bay. Flaherty employed two recently developed Akeley gyroscope cameras which required minimum lubrication; this allowed him to tilt and pan for certain shots even in cold weather. He also set up equipment to develop and print his footage on location and show it in a makeshift theater to his subjects. Rather than simply record events as they happened, Flaherty staged scenes -- fishing, hunting, building an igloo -- to carry along his narrative. The film's tremendous success confirmed Flaherty's status as a first-rate storyteller and keen observer of man's fragile relationship with the harshest environmental conditions. (In a sadly appropriate footnote, Nanook, the subject of the film, died of starvation not long after the film's release.) ~ Tom Wiener, Rovi