Nanook of the North is an interesting film that documents the lifestyle of an Inuit family in Quebec, Canada. Robert J. Flaherty, the writer, producer and director of the film makes sure to film every aspect of the family’s daily struggles and duties. With nearly everything but cold weather in limited supply, it becomes very obvious that every aspect in their lives serves a specific role aimed towards survival; they have no space extraneous luxuries.
The community as a whole seems to be very amicable, with everybody willingly helping each other out. The fur trader treats Nanook’s children to some biscuits and lard, and then even gives one of them some castor oil after they overdo it on their snacks. Nanook is even shown helping out
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We see it most when Nanook and his family arrive to the trading post with there furs, their only encounter with the white man. At this particular point in the movie the masculine image of Nanook is lessened. This proud archetypal hunter’s image becomes razed when compared to the smarts and technology of the white man. Nanook is made into the “smiling one” which is the same image given to Nyla; he becomes the more feminine one compared to the white hunter. (Huhndork) This image he has at this point is quite the opposite of what he was given in the film up until this point, and that he seems to have for the rest of the film once Nanook and his family leave the trading post. It is easy to see Flaherty’s pre-existing European stigmas on what a nuclear family’s structure should be like. Nanook, image as the hunter and leader of the family is exaggerated and heroized, while Nyla’s role is sort of just stuffed into the background as caretaker, making her seem insignificant to the family’s survival. From a gender point of view, this leaves the audience feeling like the real family structure of the Inuit is overshadowed by European ethnocentric ideals of gender and its role in survival. In my opinion, I can see why its influence in film is so significant, but as far as viewing the film in the sense of gender in an Inuit family, it is quite misleading. I feel like Flaherty has cut