Review: The Journals of Knud Rasmussen

Posted by: Dean Kish  //  September 29, 2006 @ 11:59am

Filed under: Reviews

It's a bleak world in the Arctic.

In 1912, Danish explorers come upon a tribe of Inuit who are still embracing the old ways. Their traditions have been passed down from generation to generation and they really have no desire or drive to change. If it works, then stick with it, and they have.

The Inuit shaman Avva fears that the white men will disrupt his isolated society and his headstrong daughter Apak seems to have new ideas emerging in her mind.

As the film continues, we are introduced to more members of the tribe who chronicle stories of what life is like in the arctic. It seems that Avva's tribe has a sister tribe across the tundra who has embraced Christianity and the Danish explorers have asked Avva and his tribemates to escort them to that community. Avva reluctantly agreed, but his fears manifest even more as the journey arrives.

The Journals of Knud Rasmussen is presented as more of an "anthropological" study of the Inuit as they struggle to hang onto their ancient customs. The film is filled with oodles of close-ups, Inuit recollection, and just how claustrophobic it is inside an igloo. There is a lot of singing and telling of tales. The action is in the retold accounts, not on screen.

We learn some about this society but never enough to be enveloped inside. I wanted to know more about how these people survive, not what stresses them out.

Also, what was with those bizarre love scenes? I have never seen anything like that ever.

The film is an interesting look into the mind of the Inuit, but you almost need a sister film as an introduction. Since I never saw 2001's Atanarjuat, which was made by the same people who made this film, I can't say if it was the film I needed to see before this one.

I liked the cast and seeing the Inuit way of life, but felt the film needed a lot more to enthrall me. (3 out of 5) So Says the Soothsayer.

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