Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner (2001) tells an Inuit legend and is the first film to be made entirely in Inuktitut.
The production quality may seem a little lackluster by today’s standards, but considering when this film was made and the relatively low budget, it works well with what it has.
What it has is solid human storytelling, some beautiful visuals, and a rare authenticity.
The beginning is a bit confusing because it jumps a generation to center on two brothers Amaqjuaq and Atanarjuat, but once it settles into it’s dramatic middle it’s easy to feel for the characters and situations. It has everything you may want in a drama: love (and a sex scene), betrayal, and revenge.
There are also surprising comedic bits, which are vital for connecting to the characters. One of my favorites: “If you want to lift a heavy rock, think of it as a women’s butt, and then you’ll be able to lift it”.
The film is quite long (172 minutes) and between time jumps it can be difficult to keep with the flow of the story, but certain moments are excellent payoffs for sticking with it.
Pictures below show some of my favorite visuals. The music – particularly songs sung by the characters – was amazing.
Sometimes, it seemed almost documentary-like with showing traditions, but this is probably because we only ever see these traditions in documentaries, if at all. So, it’s refreshing to see them built into a story and enhance viewer immersion.
Definitely recommend watching Atanarjuat: the Fast Runner (2001), especially if you’re interested in Inuit traditions or just in the mood for a good epic drama.
You can rent it online at http://www.nfb.ca/film/atanarjuat_the_fast_runner/ for $4.
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