(1922)5Tom WienerBefore Robert Flaherty's Nanook of the North, filmmakers who had recorded the daily lives of people, starting with the Lumiere Brothers and their famed glimpses of workers leaving their factory, had been casual observers. Flaherty instinctively understood that film audiences loved a good story, and he set out to marry the conventions of narrative cinema with the reality of commonplace life. By choosing a setting of extreme conditions -- the death of Nanook shortly after the film's release only underscored the treacherous conditions of his life -- Flaherty started out with an inherently dramatic foundation. He built on that by asking his subjects, whose cooperation he wooed by screening footage of their work together, to stage scenes for him. The igloo which Nanook, his family, and friends built for Flaherty was larger than normal and contained only three sides, to allow the filmmaker's cameras access to the interior. Critics have charged that this technique compromised the film's authenticity, but, as in all of his major features (Moana, Man of Aran, Louisiana Story), Flaherty was more interested in the general rather than the specific. The truth of these films lies in their faithful rendering of man's relationship to the natural world, and in that regard, Flaherty had no peer.