|THE JOURNALS OF
|© 2006 by C. E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.
Pakak Innukshuk as Avva in
The Journals of Knud Rasmussen
Directed by Zacharias Kunuk and
Norman Cohn, Canada
Photo Credit: IGLOOLIK ISUMA
PRODUCTIONS © 2006
The team behind the
successful drama ATANARJUAT,
THE FAST RUNNER have collaborated again to produce THE JOURNALS OF
KNUD RASMUSSEN, inspired by true life events that unfolded in the Arctic
in the early 1920s. The film's co-directors Zacharias Kunuk and Norman Cohn
are devoted to preserving and promoting Inuit history. Since much of that culture
relies on oral tradition, film seems the best means to achieve that goal.
Despite the title, Rasmussen (Jens Jørn Spottag) is not the main character.
For a time, that honor falls to Leah Angutimarik's Apak, a fetching young woman
who has inherited her father's shamanistic ability. Her father Avva (Pakak
Innuksuk), however, is not happy with some of her uses for her abilities, notably
having sex with her dead husband. He feels she should be concentrating more
on her living spouse and his needs. After a while Apak falls into the background
and the story seems to revolve around Avva and his interactions with some of
Rasmussen's men, notably Peter (Kim Bodnia of PUSHER) and Therkel (Jakob
Cedergren). Eventually due to a weather-induced famine, Avva and some of
his followers agree to escort Peter and Therkel on a journey over the frozen
ice to the island of Iglulik. On their journey, they have a fateful encounter with
another tribe that has been converted by Christian missionaries.
Truthfully, this film is not easy to follow because there is no linear story.
It's more a matter of moods and impressions and one has to let go and follow
the flow to fully appreciate and enjoy what it has to offer. The photography
is beautiful and the themes of sloughing off old beliefs is a poignant one,
particularly as the stated mission of the filmmakers' company is to preserve
those very traditions. Gradually the most tragic figure to emerge is Avva who
has to pay a terrible price.
While not a perfect movie, THE JOURNALS OF KNUD RASSMUSSEN
has plenty to offer if one gives oneself over to its unique rhythms.