Outside and across the playground lay the Renfrew Hills and beyond them the sea. If you dived in and swam due west you would end up probably in Greenland or northern Labrador. James Kelman, A Disaffection
Text plus Iconography = Inuit Films By Lars Kristensen Geographically, the Inuits inhabit the land of four different nations: Russia, Alaska, Canada and Greenland, but to view all the people living in this area as ‘one’ would amount to denying these diverse ethnic groups their distinctiveness. The same goes for the Inuit languages. A colonial attitude towards the language of Inuits equates it as one language: in 1932 Edward Moffat Weyer wrote: ‘All groups speak dialects of the same language’ and the knowledge of one tongue enables you ‘to understand all the Eskimo tribes between Hudson Bay and Bering Strait’. (Weyer, 1932: 3) Also a language distinction on national level is confounded: Siberian Inuits would need translators talking to their counterparts in Alaska, Canada or Greenland because their Russianisation has diminished the utility of native Inuit language. And while for Greenlanders erasing the colonial Danish, English is a suitable intermediate language, English is the colonial language for Alaskan and Canadian Inuits, and scarcely spoken by Siberian Inuits. In reality, each of the four national groups contains dialects and language borders within the national border; for example, Greenland has three distinct national dialects: East Greenlandic, West Greenlandic and Northwest Greenlandic. Hence the geographical land occupied by the Inuit consists of diverse cultural and linguistically entities. The four films, Nanook of the North (Robert Flaherty, 1922), Smilla’s Sense of Snow (Bille August, 1997), Heart of Light (Jacob Grønlykke, 1998) and The Fast Runner (Zacharias Kunuk, 2001), which I have termed Inuit, are part of this diversity, but contain cinematic similarities. Not in the sense of making a colonial ‘one’, but because all four of them have some degree of text within the framework and (re)use established cinematic iconography. The differences in cinematic utilisation of these similarities cast significant light on not only the films themselves and their expression, but also what is cinematic in an Inuit context. In addition to these three main Greenlandic dialects, as mentioned above, there is also a Copenhagen Greenlandic dialect, spoken by the Copenhagen Diaspora community, and this community is the context of Smilla’s Sense of Snow. This film is also the only one that is a traditional literary adaptation. The film is adapted from Peter Høeg’s best selling novel of the same title, which tells the story of the half-Inuit, half-Danish Smilla Jaspersen investigating the death of an Inuit boy living in her Copenhagen apartment block. The novel was an international success and was generally viewed as both a whodunit and a thriller with a breathless narrative pace. International success and narrative pace have often proven fortuitous in adaptation, for example Martin Cruz Smith’s Gorky Park enjoyed acclaimed success both as novel and film. It is important to note that Peter Høeg’s novel was viewed as a significant contribution to the established literary genre of Danish writers narrating Greenland where the writer tries to uncover a ‘real’ Greenland. Furthermore, it was seen as an attempt to address issues of Danish colonialism, but, according to one critic, the novel disappoints ‘by repeating the established discourse on Greenland and Greenlanders’. (Thisted, 2003: 60) The reasoning in this chain of thought is that the character Smilla fails to create a postcolonial third space, from which she can threaten the colonial narration of pure Greenland, of an Arctic Orientalism. In my opinion, this is a questionable interpretation: Smilla is not a postcolonial subject of the Franz Fanon model (ie. militaristic), but rather a modern subject, for whom searching and finding is about the individual, about Smilla herself – not the nation. In this way Smilla resembles more the Jess character in Bend It Like Beckham (Gurinder Chadha, 2002), where the road to self-discovery does not mark empowerment over the dominant social structures, but the negotiating of two fields in order to create a space for oneself. One telling example of this ambiguity in the postcolonial discourse is when Smilla is taken to the police station for interrupting the investigation. Here Smilla is presented with two files, both containing accurate description of her character. The first, a pink folder, contains the good Smilla (or her ‘curriculum vitae’ side). The second folder, a dark green, is thin and tells about the ‘bad’ Smilla. The potential danger or threat to the dominant society through the dark green folder that Smilla represents is eliminated by the prospect of imprisonment. Smilla retreats: The Greenlandic hell is the locked room (...) I feel that same way about my spatial freedom as I’ve noticed men feel about their testicles. I cradle it like a baby, and worship it as a goddess. In my investigation (...) I have reached the end of the road. (Høeg, 1992: 91) Here Smilla has a ‘flaw’ from growing up in Greenland, a failing as postcolonial subject, but, I would claim, she continues her investigation, not to rediscover herself as a Greenlander, but to liberate herself as a person living in-between her two incompatible worlds.
As a film, Smilla’s Sense of Snow was not a success. The film failed to capture the imagination of its audiences and flopped at the box office. In my view, the reason lies in the international cast - although Julia Ormond (playing Smilla) does a very good job in capturing the soul of her character - because the choice of cast and director was made with the American market in mind, which meant that economic issues informed its portrayal – the thriller took over the topic. One critic even excludes it from the tradition of Danish Greenland film, a subject we will return to, saying that it is ‘neither Danish nor Greenlandic enough to fall within this genre’. (Gant, 1998: n5) With the market in mind, Smilla becomes more about the narrative drive and the facilitating of an international audience (which is always in danger of getting lost in explanatory stuff) than its literary roots of Greenlanders in Copenhagen. The opening scene is an example of this detachment from the subject of the film: from a shot of a helicopter over the icescape we view Greenland; the helicopter shot holds at an Inuit hunter, standing over a hole in the ice, hunting seal. The point of the shot not in contact with the icescape of Greenland emphasises the film’s rather superficial treatment of the subject, but what is even more emphatic is the image of the Inuit hunter, depicted as the iconic Eskimo, frozen in his hunt for the seal. The filmmakers made no effort in adding to the imagery of the Inuits, but instead repeated a long established depiction of Inuit stereotype. From where does this cinematic iconography originate? The simple answer is Flaherty’s Nanook of the North and its scene ‘documenting’ Nanook (acted by Alakariallak1) harpooning a seal and his two-minute struggle with the out-of-vision seal. Since the French film theorist, André Bazin, accentuated the scene in his essay ‘The Evolution of the Language of Cinema’ from 1958 (1967), Flaherty’s film, and in particular this scene, has stayed within cinema studies as an example of early realism. Recapping Bazin’s few lines on Nanook: What matters to Flaherty, confronted with Nanook hunting the seal, is the relation between Nanook and the animal; the actual length of the waiting period (...) Flaherty confines himself to showing the actual waiting period, the length of the hunt is the very substance of the image, its true object. It is with these lines that Nanook enters the history of film theory and as such is only part of the overall argument containing an emphasis on other directors, as Erich von Stroheim and F.W. Murnau. My glitch is not with Bazin’s argument of the evolution of cinema, which seen nearly 50 years later is obviously flawed, but with this image becoming the standard iconography of an Inuit. Flaherty was not suddenly ‘confronted’ with Nanook hunting a seal, but – according to his own account – reconstructed this scene from a previous encounter. One day I was sledding along the coast of Belcher Islands. We had not seen a sign of life for two days sledding and we were bending in the wind, blinded by the snow. We almost stumbled into the solitary figure of an Eskimo. He was watching a little hole. It was the breathing hole of a seal. We tried to be as quiet as possible, swung off our course and went on – and left him there, as God forsaken and as forlorn a figure as I have ever seen. (Flaherty, 1949) For Flaherty this encounter with the seal-hunting Inuit becomes a metaphor for the existence of the Inuit people, ‘solitary’, ‘God forsaken’ and ‘forlorn’. Therefore, he transposed the same image of the seal hunter on to Nanook. Thus we can also speak of Nanook’s textual framework as Flaherty’s translation of the event that he perceived while travelling the Belsher Islands. Another explanation is that Flaherty complied with audience expectations. As Ann Fienup-Riordan asserts: ‘Sealing through the ice was a dramatic activity often associated with Eskimos, and the audience expected it.’ (Fienup-Riordan, 1995: 49) There are two reasons for this expectation: firstly, because the image was adherent to a primitive life form, there was in the audience ‘a desire to view hunting societies and the Inuits, in particular, as an original, primitive version of our own society’ (Marcus, 1995: 12) The expectancy of the ‘pure primitive’ informs what has been lost in the Western society. Secondly, as Fienup-Riordan indicated above, because the image can be found going back to the exploration literature of the 16th century moving ‘through the presentation of Eskimos at world fairs and travelling exhibitions in the 19th century’. (Fienup-Riordan: 7) Iconography of Inuits sealing through the ice precedes Nanook and as an Arctic Orientalism is a mirror of the Occident. What is especially interesting to this case is Flaherty’s concealment of the fact that at the time of filming the preferred method of seal hunting was with guns. Flaherty would have been aware of this method of seal hunting, but chose the harpoon over the gun because it was a ‘pure’ Inuit method that the audience already knew and associated with Inuits. This freezes the image of the Inuit in a pre-modern, pre-civilisation era, as a ‘pure’ primitive culture uncontaminated by modernism. The fact that the cinematic icon of Inuit hunting a seal with harpoon derives from Flaherty’s colonial narration does not deter contemporary filmmakers from using such imagery, albeit in different contexts. Heart of Light is co-written by the Greenlandic author Hans Anthon Lynge and it tells the story of Rasmus, the son of a Greenlandic pro-Danish politician. Rasmus is going to the dogs: he is unemployed, an alcoholic, and lives on the illusion that he is a great hunter. In a tragic event, his youngest son shoots two people and himself in a rage which compels Rasmus to go on a journey of self-discovery where he encounters mythological figures who help him on his path to redemption. Heart of Light is within the extended tradition of Danish film occupied with a Greenlandic theme, which I mentioned earlier. In fact what is considered to be the very first Danish film had a Greenlandic theme. Greenland Dogs Pulling a Sled (Peter Elfelt, 1897) is a 10metre long film (30 sec.) shot in a snow-covered Copenhagen park and shows a sledge drawn by two dogs under the guidance of an anorak-dressed man with a long whip. The sledge comes towards the camera, turns in front of it and drives off into the
distance. Greenland Dogs Pulling a Sled shows Greenland and Danish cinemas intrinsically intertwined. There are two texts behind Heart of Light. Firstly, there is a tragic event from reality. On New Year’s Eve 1989, a disillusioned young man went out and shot seven of his friends.2 The tragedy incited the film, as the director of the film explains: It was impossible for me to get that incident out of my head – the circumstance of the tragedy was simply incomprehensible. It occurred to me that if you should ever understand such a disaster you have to take the starting point of the parents’ generation, those who had been standing with one leg in both camps – the new and the old world. (Grønlykke, 2000) Grønlykke translates this tragic event, and what is in his opinion the root of the killings, on to the screen, as a metaphor for the problem facing the people of modern Greenland, as Flaherty did. Secondly, there is Joseph Conrad’s novel, Heart of Darkness (1902),3 which functions as a direct inversion of the title of the film. There are two ways in which we can interpret this literary reference because the darkness in Conrad’s novel itself is open for interpretation. The title of Conrad’s story refers both to the travel into the heart of the Dark Continent, Africa, and also to the penetration into the heart of colonialism, into the darkness of the human soul.4 As with the novel, on the surface the film could be seen as the travel into the heart of the snow-lightened Greenland, but underneath Heart of Light is the reversal of the darkness of colonial horror; it tries to unearth the light underneath the layers of colonial influence. Light plays an important part in the film, especially in the way artificial light and natural light are contrasted to emphasise differences between the modern and the ‘authentic’ Inuit culture. For example, the light in the flat when Rasmus comes home drunk is electric and contrasts with the light from a seal-oil lamp, which appears when he starts performing as the great hunter to his wife Marie. Also the light of the street lamps in the town is contrasted to the natural white light of the ice cap. Whereas for Conrad’s protagonist, Marlow, the polar cap was potentially a place of exploration in Heart of Darkness,5 the ice cap becomes for Rasmus a place of self-discovery. It is, of course, also on this ice cap that the film, which by its mere reference to Conrad’s novel purports to be postcolonial, repeats the Inuit iconography of the seal hunter. Rasmus, on his journey of self-discovery, encounters a Qivittoq,6 a mythological figure who has stolen his food and ammunition. Rasmus is near starvation and is about to kill one of his dogs, when the Qivittoq emerges and gives back Rasmus’s empty bag, saying that there is plenty of food in the bag for Rasmus and his dog. In the bag is only a letter from his wife Marie, which recounts a poem about the seal that has to breath through holes in the ice. This is the turning point in Rasmus’s journey, Rasmus realises, or rediscovers, the way of hunting seals. The imagery is in the traditional mode: a high close-up shot of Rasmus from behind, hooded in his blue anorak.7 The camera pans around Rasmus and shows him with his harpoon raised, then cuts to a medium-long shot with Rasmus standing alone on the ice cap with an iceberg in the background. When Rasmus strikes, the film cuts to Rasmus walking back to his dogs dragging the seal after him. Although the scene only takes 30 seconds and is cut short of showing Rasmus’s struggle with the seal, the iconography bears an uncanny resemblance to Flaherty’s solitude in Nanook. On one level we can read this in the same terms as with Flaherty, as an objective to create an image of recognition for the audience. On another level, though, the scene illustrates how powerful (post)colonialism is in holding its subjects in a place of dependency. Rasmus, a modern Greenlander, has had his contact with nature severed by colonialism masquerading as modernism. True to the object of its depiction, the Inuits of Greenland, the film does not dissemble modern life in Greenland, like Flaherty did on the Belchers Islands: the harpoon is brought along on hunting trips for safety reasons only, in case the hunter runs out of ammunition or damages his rifle. In such a case the harpoon would be used to avoid starvation, as Rasmus does in the film, or when law imposes hunting restrictions, eg. hunting narwhals in Thule, North-West Greenland, must be hunted by kayaks, using a harpoon.8 That said, Rasmus is from an urban town; he is a weekend hunter, for whom hunting is a perquisite, and not from a hunting community. Thus the iconography taps into a symbol of an idealised past and adheres to the image of the Noble Savage in spiritual and moral harmony with nature. The iconography negates the image of the Inuit in a capitalist mode of production where hunting entails sealing with nets, shooting them in the water from the edge of the ice or from boats, and shooting them when they rest on the ice.9 Though these methods are commercial, it is subsistence hunting; the meat from the seal is consumed within the hunting community. In North-West Greenland seal hunting still defines the hunting communities; it ‘continues to have profound social, ideological and spiritual importance’. (Nuttall, 1992: 34) Here we see a prime example of how iconography speaks to both the reality and the myth of its depiction: the Inuit hunting seal with the harpoon informs the reality of the social, ideological and spiritual importance of the seal and the myth of a pre-rifle hunting method. The last film also has seal hunting as part of its narrative. The Fast Runner tells the Canadian Inuit legend of Atanarjuat (the Fast Runner), who was forced to flee for his life because of an evil spirit residing in the community, making part of the settlement be absorbed in jealousy and personal desires. The choice of text adapted is taken consciously, as such narratives have been important for Inuit communities as they tell about the dangers of putting personal desires over those of the community: the division of an Inuit settlement could result in starvation and death. The connection between old Inuit tales and cinematic adaptation is evident in another film with a similar plot line.10 The Wedding of Palo (directed by Friedrich Dalsheim, 1934) is also based on a traditional Inuit tale of East Greenland, in which Palo fights with the villain Samo for the love of the heroine Navarana. The Arctic explorer Knud Rasmussen co-produced the film and chose a happy-ending love story in order to facilitate a larger audience. Clearly he had to make the film an economic success in order to finance more expeditions and more films. The villain Samo stabs Palo with a knife during a traditional drumsong contest, but Palo survives and returns to win his bride. This, Erik Gant finds, is a stark contrast to Rasmussen’s ethnographical writing on murderous acts within an East-Greenlandic
community: ‘From reading [Rasmussen’s book] and from other ethnographic sources, you would expect Samo to finish the job, cut up the body of his slain enemy, eat the heart, etc.’ (Gant, 1999) On one hand there was a drive for showing Inuits as human beings capable of complex feeling, but on the other a need to cater for the audience by not altering the stereotype of the happy-go-lucky Eskimo and show the Inuits as murderous. If Rasmussen softens his film – a film that is seen as ethnographically quite accurate (Fienup-Riordan: 98) – then Zacharias Kunuk does not soften his story; we have murder and sealing through the ice in the same scene. The scene comes late in the film, after Atanarjuat has fled and is recovering in order to return to settle the score. Again we start with a close-up, but where the shot of Rasmus was from above and from behind, here it is a frontal close-up and from beneath, looking up at the hunter. Furthermore, the character is not one of the protagonists, but of Sauri, the father of Atanarjuat’s adversary, Oki, and the camp leader. Then follows a cut to a long-medium shot, now of Oki himself, as he abandons his hole. The film then cuts back to Sauri in a shot-of-depth, where we see Oki walking towards Sauri, but this shot also reveals two other hunters, bend over their respective holes. Oki arrives at Sauri, complaining that his hole is no good. Sauri replies that he can have his, as it is probably already spoiled by Oki’s noise. Oki takes his father’s knife and stabs him, telling Sauri that Atuat (Atanarjuat’s wife) is his, a marriage Sauri has so far prevented. Oki then shouts to the others that his father has fallen onto the knife and killed himself. Here is a significant alteration of the iconography that we have looked at previously. First of all, the close-up on Sauri is significant: it is an empowering shot, Sauri towers over the camera, looking down on the seal hole and us. This is very different from the shot of Rasmus, where we were looking down on him, but also reminiscent of Flaherty’s shot of Nanook. Secondly, there is Oki’s mentioning of his hole not being any good, which points towards an impatience suffered during the hunt; an impatience previously omitted from the iconography. Thirdly, the disclosure of hunting together as a community is emphasised over the lonely hunter. Fourthly, the scene brings in the murderous Inuit, which challenges the happy-go-lucky, smiling Inuit. Finally, the scene is incorporated into the continuity of the narrative, ie. it is not a turning point (Heart of Light) or in the introduction outside the narrative (Smilla’s Sense of Snow), but within the continuation of the narrative (Nanook of the North). The continuity of Inuit story telling is emphasised on the film’s website: [The] film Atanarjuat is part of this continuous stream of oral history carried forward into the new millennium through a marriage of Inuit storytelling skills and new technology. (www.atanarjuat.com) Continuity is important in the context of narrating the Inuits, whether it is through cinematic representation or ethnography (Nuttall, 1992: 29), and The Fast Runner makes explicit reference to this by adapting the 1,000-year-old legend. As such the text behind the film serves the function of making present pre-colonial narratives which were denied by the colonial narratives for whom the exploration was a ‘blank space’ which needed to be filled out – needed to be written. The significant linkage between these films is the fact that the iconography of Nanook has had an influence on the three contemporary films: all the filmmakers would have been familiar with Flaherty’s film. The seeming eloquence of Nanook cannot be overestimated, as Fienup-Riordan concluded on Flaherty’s film: The image he created is so powerful that all subsequent filmmakers in the Arctic work in his shadow. If anyone is ever to undo Flaherty’s celluloid stereotype, they must use at least as much skill and finesse as Nanook’s creator or they will have precious little impact. (Fienup-Riordan: 55) So, what is the problem of Nanook within film studies, if contemporary filmmakers, Inuit and non-Inuit, feel compliant to make intertextual reference to it? My problem is not with the narrative as such, but with the emphasis on the seal-hunting scene, largely due to the four lines Bazin wrote on it. In my opinion, although I am not alone (Haastrup: 254), there are more worthy scenes in Nanook; for example the walrus hunt, where the same kind of depth of field has Nanook sneaking in on walruses lying on the beach and fighting a hard won battle with the walrus. Here Nanook hunts with his community and therefore the scene is without the connotation of the solitude of the Inuit people. Another problem with the iconography of the seal hunting Inuit is that it is a purely male iconography. This elimination of Inuit women from the iconography is problematic as women have throughout history taken, and still take, an active role in hunting. It was not uncommon that a woman took up hunting herself. Inuit women have often been in the situation of choosing between dependence on the community or hunting themselves, when a husband or father has for some reason or other been unable to do the hunting. Like Apphia Agalakti Awa: I remember I was outside the sod-house by the shore. I looked up and saw a seal in the water (...) I was pregnant. I had a big stomach, but I was still growing myself [she is 15]. I grabbed the narwhal gun and shot the seal. (1999: 60) She delivered her baby only hours after this. Or what about Smilla’s mother; she is a full-time hunter. Understanding that her father is going blind when he misses a shot at a seal, she contemplates her future: welfare assistance, death by starvation or a life dependent on kinfolk; ‘When the seal popped up again, she shot it.’ (Høeg, 29) Such an Inuit representation on the big screen would seriously expose this established iconography on account of both gender and myth. Bibliography Awa, Apphia Agalakti (1999) Saqiyuq: Stories From the Lives of Three Inuit Women, (ed.) Nancy Wachowich, McGill-Queen’s
University Press, Montreal & Kingston Press, Toronto. Bazin, André (1967) The Evolution of the Language of Cinema, in What Is Cinema? Vol 1, (ed. and trans.) H. Gray, University of California Press, Berkeley. Conrad, Joseph (1902) Heart of Darkness, Penguin Books, London, 2000. Fienup-Riordan, Ann (1995) Freeze Frame: Alaskan Eskimo in the Movies, University of Washington Press, Washington, London. Flaherty Robert (1949) BBC Interview, re-broadcasted in People of the Island, Channel 4, 1983. Gant, Erik (1998) Omskrivninger af folks oprindelighed, Center for Cultural Research, University of Aarhus, http://www.hum. au.dk/ckulturf/pages/publications/eg/oprindelighed.htm Gant, Erik (1999) Good and Bad eskimos, Center for Cultural Research, University of Aarhus, http://www.hum.au.dk/ckulturf/ pages/publications/eg/oprindelighed.htm Grønlykke, Jacob (2000) Instruktøren Jacob Grønlykke – om Lysets hjerte, at http://www.dfi.dk/dfi/undervisning/lysetshjerte/ instruk.htm Haastrup, Helle Kannik (2003) Kuldens muntre søn, in Kosmorama, No 232, Winter, the Danish Film Institute/University of Copenhagen. Høeg Peter (1992) Miss Smilla’s Feelings for Snow, (trans.) F. David, Flamingo, London, 1993. Marcus, Alan R (1992) Out in the Cold, IWGIA, Document 71, Copenhagen. Marcus, Alan R (1995) Relocating Eden:The Image and Politics of Inuit Exile in the Canadian Arctic, Dartmouth College, University Press of New England, Hanover, London. Nuttall, Mark (1992) Arctic Homeland: Kinship, Community and Development in Northwest Greenland, University of Toronto Press, Toronto, Buffalo. Skvorecky, Josef (1984) The Engineer of Human Souls, (trans) Paul Wilson, Dalkey Archive. Thisted, Kirsten (2003) Danske Grønlandsfiktioner: Om billedet af Grønland i dansk litteratur, in Kosmorama, No 232, Winter, the Danish Film Institute/University of Copenhagen. Weyer, Edward Moffat (1932) The Eskimos:Their Environment and Folkways,Yale University Press, New Haven, London. Endnotes 1. Alakariallak died while on a hunt trip two years after Nanook was made. Officially he died of starvation, but Marcus suggests that the real course was tuberculosis, which has killed a large number of Inuits in the last century. (Marcus, 1995: 226) The part of the community that Flaherty filmed was relocated in the 50s to the high Arctic for ‘protection’ measures. Among these Inuits were Flaherty’s Inuit son, Joseph Flaherty, who relocated with wife and three children to Grise Fiord on Ellesmere Island. One of the three children, Martha, remembers the hardship: ‘I don’t think I ever had a childhood between the ages of 7 to 12 because I had to hunt with my father for food, in very cold weather, with absolutely no daylight … Sometimes I used to cry knowing how cold it was going to be, but then my father would just say, “Do you want us to starve?”’ (Marcus, 1992: 29) 2. Ironically, the person is now serving a lifetime sentence in a Danish prison. Greenland does not have facilities for long-term prisoners. If Smilla’s fear of imprisonment is real, then the fear of imprisonment for the people living in Greenland can only be more real, being transported thousands of miles away from your home, to a country where you do not necessary speak the language and where it is highly unlikely for you to receive any visitors. 3. It is not the first time Conrad’s novel has been adapted for the screen, with Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now (1979) the most popular version. 4. From an Eastern European perspective the Russian harlequin, Marlow encounters on his way to meet the infamous Kurtz, can be seen as Conrad’s prediction of the darkness of Stalinism with all its horror of political dictatorship (see Skvorecky, 1984: pp 278-365). 5. ‘At that time there were many blank spaces on the earth [ie. not discovered]. The North Pole was one of these places, I remember.’ (Conrad: pp 21-22) 6. ‘A qivittoq is a mysterious, supernatural wanderer, a person who has left the warmth and security of their home community to live alone on the mountains.’ (Nuttall: 112) Mostly the qivittoq is a man who has been unlucky in love, which is also the case in Heart of Light. 7. The anorak is of synthetic material and not of skin, as are his plastic boots, indicating that Rasmus has not yet fully recovered as an Inuit. The happy ending provides us with Rasmus in polar bear skin trousers, skin jacket and seal skin boots. 8. I am indebted to Mark Nuttall for this, and many more, points of information. 9. According to the animal-rights movement, Inuits hunting seals for profit are ‘no longer “real” or “‘traditional” primitive people [because] they hunt in order to sell skins to overseas markets.’ (Nuttall, 1992: 27) 10. To these films could also be included the Yakut-Siberian The River (Aleksei Balabanov, 2002), which, although not in the context of Siberian Inuit, tells the story of how jealousy and desire divide a settlement with fatal consequences.