‘Journals of Knud Rasmussen’ Documents Inuit Village’s Struggle for Survival
The Journals of Knud Rasmussen declares its intentions in its opening scene: a group of Inuit people in heavy parkas group together, fidget and adjust themselves, smile awkwardly and strike a variety of poses until — click — their image is captured in a sepia-toned picture. Since all of this is filmed from the photographer’s perspective, the audience is placed in a voyeur’s position. We are meant to watch these people as they go about their business — both the mundane and profound — never quite knowing them, but bearing witness to what will turn out to be a decisive moment in their history.
The film, which opens today, comes from New Yorker Norman Cohn and Inuit Zacharias Kunuk, following their 2000 debut. Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner grabbed the Caméra d’Or at Cannes; but Giese tells us the tone of the new film is more solemn and ponderous. It is based on the journals of a Danish explorer of the Arctic, from his travels there in the 1920s.
Films on such topics (films without Costner: step to the front, please, for a while at least) deserve more attention, in my humble opinion. The film debuted at the Toronto Film Festival in early September. If anyone sees it, please share your impressions. I hope to catch it in the next couple of weeks.