Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Advertised as "A True Story of Life and Love Among the Esquimos [sic]", Primitive Love can be said to have been 16 years in the making. In 1911, Arctic explorer Frank E. Klenschmitt participated in the Carnegie Museum's Alaska-Siberia expedition, bringing back several reels of film. Much of his footage was devoted to Eskimo life, with numerous shots of Eskimo children giggling and waving at the camera, along with the traditional fishing and harpooning scenes. The tribes depicted herein were but a few miles from civilization, but Kleinschmitt chose to ignore this fact when he used the 1911 expedition footage as the basis for his 1926 production Primitive Love, for which he shot a few new sequences featuring such authentic Arctic denizens as Ok-Ba-Ok, Sicca Bruna, Wenga and Amutuk. In emulation of documentary filmmaker Robert Flaherty, Kleinschmitt concocted a dramatic narrative pitting an Eskimo hunter against the elements; in imitation of traditional Hollywood formula, he also fabricated a domestic subplot focusing on hero Ok-Ba-Ok's strained relationship with his "modern" daughter (Wenga). Critics were fascinated by the 1911 footage, but found the new narrative hokey, reserving their praise for the "Aesop's Fable" cartoon which accompanied Primitive Love during its initial New York run.