(2001)4Josh RalskeZacharias Kunuk's Inuit epic Atanarjuat the Fast Runner is a noteworthy cinematic accomplishment. The film has been critically heralded worldwide, not just for its unique subject matter, but also for its thrilling drama and gorgeous cinematography. Shot on digital video for a tiny fraction of what a typical Hollywood epic would cost, the film successfully thrusts viewers into the ancient frozen world of Inuit legend. The story starts quickly, with no unnecessary exposition, and it may confuse viewers in the early going. But they should be settled in by the time the story leaps forward into the adult life of Atanarjuat (Natar Ungalaq). Kunuk and his crew spent a lot of time and effort reproducing the way their ancestors live, and the film offers a fascinating glimpse into the past customs of this brutal but strangely beautiful land. The stark setting of the film offers tremendous opportunities for drama, and thankfully, the focus of the film is less on anthropology than on classic storytelling. The period detail is seamlessly woven into a universally accessible tale. The performers, of whom only a few are experienced actors, do excellent work. Ungalaq, in the lead role, has an easygoing charm which gives way to grim determination as his woes mount. Pakkak Innukshuk, as Atanarjuat's older brother, Amaqjuaq, projects tremendous confidence and quiet strength, while Lucy Tulugarjuk is amusingly robust yet slippery as Puja. The film was clearly a labor of love for all involved, and their passion for the material is palpable in every frame. Atanarjuat the Fast Runner may seem like heavy sledding for the first few minutes, but those who stick with it will be well rewarded.
cast-crew for Atanarjuat the Fast Runner on AllMovie