The Fast Runner (Atanarjuat) (Canada; 174min.)


directed by: Zacharias Kunuk
starring: Natar Ungalaaq; Sylvia Ivalu; Peter-Henry Arnatsiaq; Lucy Tulugarjuk
Atanarjuat, the Fast Runner
 
Diane says: "I never wrote a review, but I just want to say that I would give ATANARJUAT, THE FAST RUNNER 5 cats and I hope everybody sees it. " 5 cats
 
Jane says: "While I was not lucky enough to view this gorgeous film with all of you in Boston, I was fortunate enough to catch it on the big screen at our High Falls Film Festival. And seeing it on the big screen is a must. The stunning Arctic Circle vistas portrayed in the film have rarely been seen before, and they were a magnificent setting for the timeless story of a rivalry between two tribes. Neophyte Native American actors handled their roles with aplomb, carrying us back to a time when tribal leaders governed the personal lives of their subjects. When two brothers visit a neighboring tribe and fight to win the hand of a beautiful young woman who was already promised to another, they win the fight but end up embroiled in a life threatening web of lies and vengeance. The languid 172 minute running time allows the audience to become enveloped in the other-worldly, hypnotic setting of this ancient Inuit culture. The length of the film does not diminish the intensity of the conflict and the suspense it creates. This is one time I feel completely confident in stating that this film is not to be missed."
 
Laura says: "With temperatures flirting with 100 degrees on July 4, Robin & I decided that the best way to cool off would be to spend 3 hours in an air conditioned theater watching a naked man run through the snow and ice, so we went to catch up with THE FAST RUNNER (pun not intended ;-)

"Director Kunuk and his writer Paul Apak Angilirq do a wonderful job taking a legend and humanizing it, so that one can imagine it being either a true tale passed down within a family or a story told from the stars. Kunuk's got a great eye for composing his shots, although he tends to repeat his closeups too often. Some have found THE FAST RUNNER to withhold it's almost three hour running time, but we both thought it would have been better served by excising the 40ish minute prologue and some general trimming." The film - 4 cats The cooling effect - 5 cats
 
Michael says: "Despite another late night, all seven Chlotrudis-members made it to an 11:00 screening on Saturday morning, of a three-hour inuit film entitled, THE FAST RUNNER at the High Falls Film Festival. Winner of the Award for Best Canadian Feature at the Toronto Film Festival, and Best First Feature at Cannes, THE FAST RUNNER is a gorgeous epic based on a 16th Century Inuit legend. Filmed on location in Igloolik with a local cast and crew, the striking film uses the stark beauty of the arctic landscape as a stunning backdrop of a tribe divided after an evil spirit takes up residence. Sylvia Ivalu makes a stunning film debut as the beautiful, dignified Atuat. THE FAST RUNNER was the runner-up for the Audience Award in Rochester. A magnificent achievement " 4 1/2 cats
 
Nathaniel R. says: "Much of the hype swirling around this new picture, the Canadian submission for foreign film at last year's Oscars, is due to its simple status as the first ever Inuit language feature film. Sweetening the P.R. deal is the fact that almost all the principal players and behind the scenes folks are also Inuit (the gifted cinematographer is apparently the primary exception). The director, Zacharius Kunuk, had previously made documentaries and much of the film feels informed by that genre of filmmaking. For much of its running time, THE FAST RUNNER (ATANARJUAT) seems to unfold rather than be told. That choice sets the film apart and renders it more authentic than your average exotic indie but also impairs it dramatically a bit.

"Though the film is consistently engrossing it only really takes flight in the title sequence. Atanarjuat, after nearly evading a grisly murder, takes off naked across the ice of the Arctic with his enemies in swift, armed, and clothed pursuit. The deck, as they say, is stacked against him. Director Zacharias Kunuk, for all his careful and leisurely pacing, knows how to drive an image home. The sequence is an instant classic chase and it's worth the price of admission alone.

"The rest of the film doesn't reach as high, but it is still (especially considering its length) an involving mythical yarn about good and evil. You can see it for its full bodied morality tale, for its gorgeous and blinding shades of white. Or you can travel to the theater for a rare cinematic glimpse of Inuit life and legend. And once you're finished, if you're so inclined, cross another exotic culture of your list. "
 
Peg says: "The fast runner, according to Inuit legend, is the man compelled to escape by running naked through the snow when tragedy strikes. But years before that pivotal event takes place in Zacharias Kunuk’s award-studded Canadian film (part Northern travelogue, part thriller), an evil shaman’s curse has compelled two young brothers to hate each other and wreak havoc in their community. As adults, the two fight over the right to marry a beautiful woman, and Atanarjuat, the victorious suitor, is repeatedly shunned and eventually ambushed. Escape, rape, murder, and mayhem follow.

"This is the first feature film written, directed, and acted entirely by Inuit people. Inuit sculptor Natar Ungalaaq is compelling as the brave, robust Atanarjuat, and the other Inuit actors give a raw authenticity to this unusual film. Although at times Atanarjuat is slow-moving and devoid of narrative content, there’s plenty of igloo sex and ice-floe violence, and stunning cinematography from Norman Cohn. In Inuktitut with English subtitles. "