Journals keeps us waiting too long

Three years back, Atanarjuat — the Fast Runner literally blew me away with its powerful story based on a 1,000 year old legend. The Journals of Knud Rasmussen is from another time as the celebrated Danish explorer and two colleagues visit and mingle with the Inuit people in the 1920s. Alas, although worthy in its motive, Journals is no match for its predecessor.

Atanarjuat directors Zacharias Kunuk and Norman Cohn have taken their story line from two of Rasmussen’s journals. Much of the time is devoted to conversations with members of an Inuit clan that take place in igloos and tents. I personally felt these long sequences claustrophobic.

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It is only in the second half of the film that its message becomes clear. Forced by hunger to seek the company of others, the clan treks to a remote village where to get food they must give up old beliefs in favour of Christianity. The clan’s chief and his daughter are left to make the decision and the long-awaited moment becomes truly memorable and a grim reminder of all the ill consequences missonary zeal has brought to native peoples the world over.

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