Film: 5519

Social History | 1920 | Sound | B/W


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The life of the chief of the Itivimuits, an Eskimo tribe on the East Coast of Hudson Bay, Canada, and his family and community.
Nanook carries the block of ice/snow that he carved out at the end of Part One to his igloo. He puts the ice-block - obviously transluscent next to the white exterior of the igloo - against the wall of the igloo, such that it leaves an imprint, then removes it, carves out the area of packed snow within the imprint; he inserts the block of ice as a 'window pane', polishes it with his glove, then positions the block of packed snow he took out perpendicular to the pane such that it resembles a conventional open window, grinning and laughing all the time.
The family push items through the small rectangular entrance of the igloo starting with a flat bundle of goods. The young boy, wrapped in a coat and hood, is dragged along by a string attached to the block he sits on; he clutches his little bow; at that height he just makes it under the entrance. More bundles of goods are moved in and pulled through the entrance by someone inside; the entrance is then blocked by a block of snow sitting by the side of the igloo.
Nanook sits by the igloo teaching his young son how to use the small bow and arrow; the child shoots the arrow off in various directions and scampers after it as Nanook watches and laughs. Nanook sculpts a four-legged animal (reindeer?) out of ice for his child, but the latter is occupied with the bow and two arrows; Nanook takes the implements and positions them for the child, then takes it and aims at the ice animal, failing twice. Nanook kisses/sucks the hand of the crying boy, who seems to have hurt himself using the bow and arrow; two ice animals and the arrows lie forgotten in the foreground.
The family lie sleeping naked on a mattress of sacks (?), under animal hides, inside the igloo; Nyla awakes first, rolls over, stokes the fire (?) on a small stove; she sits up as the rest of them stir, and pulls on her clothes; the other family members get up and get dressed. Nanook's daughter gives him his boots (one of which she seems to be cleaning) which he pulls onto his bare legs.
A mortar (?) container suspended over a small open burning stove in the snow; chunks of ice are placed in it. Nanook bites off and chews from a chunk of meat, smiles and talks at the camera. Nyla extracts her small naked son from his place on her back in her hood; the reluctant youngster is pulled across her shoulder and onto her knee where she cleans him with a fur-lined piece of cloth/hide using her spittle; the child cringes and scrunches up his face.
Huskies/dogs recline outside the igloo; the long wooden sled is on the roof. The ice block to the entrance is chipped at and pushed aside; Nanook emerges through the tiny space. Nanook waves his hand in the air, above his head, looking intently - testing the weather, perhaps? The family has emerged; Nanook drags the sled off the roof. Nanook squats over the upturned sled, fills his mouth with water from a bucket (possibly the ice he was melting earlier) and spits it out along the side of the bottom of the sled, spreading the liquid with his hand as he moves from left to right.
Nyla and the children, all bundled up, mill outside the igloo; Nala kicks some dogs. Nyla gathers up a little black puppy and bundles it into her coat/hood. Nanook gathers furs and hides from inside the igloo, packs them tightly onto the sled. Nanook cracks a long whip or reins for the dogs, trying to get the animals in order. He steps in to separate two fighting dogs, which he finally does with the whip/reins after quite an energetic struggle. The dogs, now leashed in pairs, hurtle off, past the sled, now loaded with people, dragging the sled swiftly along behind them; Nanook runs alongside the sled and jumps on, digging his boots into the soil.
The dogs, pulling the sled, Nanook and possibly Nyla walking alongside, on a vast white undulating landscape. Nanook with a spear, blade and coiled rope attached to the spear, walks toward a small hole in the snow. Close-up of the hole and Nanook's hands and blade patting the snow around it. Nanook leans over, peering into the hole, pushes off his hood for a better look. He raises his spear, points it straight at the hole. [cuts abruptly to a shot further in the sequence] Nanook throws his spear on the ground, obviously having snared something, reels the rope out of the hole, straining to pull whatever is at the end of it up, even tumbling on the ground and being dragged on his stomach across the snow by the tug on the other end. This continues comically for quite a while; Nanook gestures for his family; they come racing as he sits grappling with the rope on the ground. Nyla and the children all grab hold of the string and pull. Nanook pushes aside snow to allow his catch, a huge seal/sealion, to be hauled up very slowly. Close-up of a dog licking its lips. Nanook slits open the carcass as his family, interspersed with shots of hungry dogs, watch.
The seal's hide is removed and slid out from under its body. Nanook and Nyla bend over it with blades and start carving the meat. Dogs watch hungrily. The family squat over the carcass, eating the meat. Close-ups of the family eating various parts of the animal. Two children, their teeth sunk into either end of a piece of meat, giggle and roll in the snow, in a mock tussle; the meat tears and they fall apart. Close-up of their blood-spattered hands and smiling faces.
Scraps are tossed to the eager but trussed up dogs, who cluster together, darting at the meat. Some dogs fly at each other and fight over the meat and have to be pulled apart. The dogs, leashed, set off again, dragging the sled behind them, but appear to get tangled up. They are separated as snow starts blowing in wisps across the landscape. A back shot of the sled speeding away, drawn haphazardly by the dogs, and the family members, some still on the sled, others running and keeping the dogs in check, all moving down another vast expanse of white.
The party travel along the side of a gentle slope, gusts of snow blowing off its side, another vast open space stretching from its base. Various other shots of the party travelling through the same vast white gusty landscape, as snow continues to blow and small dunes are formed. In a snowstorm the party appear to have returned to their regular shelter, and hurry inside as snow whirls and blows around them. The dogs remain outside, their fur getting progressively mottled with snow.
Nanook and his family set up a stove and animal hides inside the igloo. The dogs cluster round Nanook eagerly outside, getting fed, perhaps. Nanook crawls into the igloo, where his family already sit with food. Nanook beats the snow off his hood and coat. A dog sits looking plaintive outside, covered in snow. Nanook places twigs in an icy alcove in the igloo, making a bed which he puts two puppies on; he then shuts the squirming dogs in using blocks of ice. A dog paces in the snow outside, shaking snow off its coat, while others sit and wait in a line. Some of the dogs howl. More shots of dogs covered in snow.
Nanook and his family sit on the edge of their bed and remove their clothes. These are interspersed with shots of the dogs outside, looking cold and covered with snow. The exterior of the igloo, now nearly obscured by the gusty sheets of snow. The dogs outside howl. Shots of them curled up, asleep, covered with snow. More gusts of snow, blowing through a vast barren landscape.
The family asleep under their hides. Close-up of Nanook's serene sleeping face.
' "TIA MAK" (The End)' against a picture of the igloo.


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