Parents' Guide to

Nanook of the North

By Brian Costello, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 12+

Excellent early documentary has some hunting violence.

Movie NR 1922 79 minutes
Nanook of the North Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 9+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 12+

Groundbreaking documentary with a multitude of inaccuracies

An awkward silent documentary film. At first the scenes come off as a bit hokey and borderline racist, then you realize a lot of them were staged for dramatic effect. It is a shame that our desire to continue the idea of the noble savage and the sentimentalization of indigenous people seemed to hit a chord and was popularized with this film. Still, a groundbreaking documentary.
age 6+

Great addition to study of Inuit people and great film overall

My daughter is building a small igloo in first grade (in a shoebox). Watching this film was an incredible way for her to learn about the people who lived in igloos. After watching the film, she went straight into the living room and created an igloo fort out of blankets, complete with a part for the sled dog puppies and a pot over an oil lamp for melting snow. She also wanted raw seal meat for dinner. Yes, they do see animals hunted and eaten, but that is natural and it is a good topic for conversation about how these people respected the animals and used all of them. The film also shows how this family played, traveled by sled and kayak, ate, built an igloo, slept, dressed, and cared for their children. We both loved the film.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: (2):
Kids say: Not yet rated

This film creates fascinating comparisons and contrasts between Nanook's culture and our own. As the first documentary, Robert J. Flaherty's Nanook of the North created the template for how future documentaries would be made -- when to let the camera tell the story, when to step in to provide context or narrative explanation, how lives are lived, how action is performed. Even in the midst of bitter struggles of life and death, Nanook appears so much happier than people who don't share the same struggles.

The hunting scenes -- where animals are shown speared, killed, skinned, and eaten -- may be too graphic for younger viewers, but for those interested in the history of documentary film, and and how a filmmaker's love of a culture and those who live and die in it is conveyed, Nanook of the North is a must-see.

Movie Details

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