The boldly innovative "Atanarjuat" provides an amazing glimpse into the culture of the Canadian Inuit while telling an almost mythical tale.
By JEAN TANG
(Originally reviewed at the 2002 New Directors, New Films festival)
After a century of evolution, movies share a few things with a bowl of Japanese noodles. Rather than trying each time to invent a new way to cook ramen, soba, or udon, bliss is more often the ability to execute what's familiar with flavor, balance, and texture at our most hopeful, this consists of a plot that requires thought to process, and characters that do not.
But once in a while, somebody comes along with an entirely new pickle. "Atanarjuat," winner of the Camera d'Or at Cannes 2001
and a coterie of Canadian and European festival awards, has been credited with such a breakthrough. The first feature-length film
to emerge from the Canadian Inuit, Zacharias Kunuk's debut will be part of New Directors/New Films on March 30 and 31, prior
to Lot 47's limited release in New York on June 7.
|ATANARJUAT, THE FAST RUNNER|
|Directed by: Zacharias Kunuk.|
Written by: Paul Apak Angilirq.
Cast: Natar Ungalaaq, Sylvia Ivalu, Peter-Henry Arnatsiaq, Lucy Tulugarjuk, Madeline Ivalu, Paul Qulitalik, Eugene Ipkarnak, Pakkak Innushuk..
In Inuktitut with English subtitles.
|Museum of Modern Art|
New Directors/New Films Festival
11 West 53rd St.
Saturday, March 30 at 8PM and Sunday, March 31 at 11:30AM
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The story, while tasty, is not what thrills the creative palate. Like Shakespeare or Greek myth, "Atanarjuat" maneuvers its simple
tale around the bright orange signposts of human shortcoming murder, sex, power and betrayal. The mythical film offers
something else: a nose-against-glass view of an ancient civilization seldom staged and shot, in the tongue-clucking tones of
Inuktitut, a final linguistic frontier.
The title refers to an ancient myth, and the myth is named after a legendary Inuit who bolts naked across an icy expanse to escape a
trio of killers wielding spears. The aggressors, notable as bad guys due not least to their unfair advantage, are attempting once and
for all to win an ancestral rivalry, and they are assisted by the spirit of an evil shaman who introduced a reign of darkness into
Igloolik, the close-knit community where they all reside. The scene is the plot's pivotal centerpiece, and it, like the rest of the film, is
|MARCH 31, 2002|
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