EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|ESKIMO (director: W.S. Van Dyke; screenwriters: John Lee Mahin/based on the books "Der Eskimo" and "Die Flucht in's Weisse Land" by Peter Freuchen; cinematographers: Clyde De Vinna/George Gordon Nogle/Josiah Roberts/Leonard Smith; editor: Conrad A. Nervig; music: William Axt; cast: Edgar Dearing (Constable Balk), Mala (Mala), Lotus Long (Iva), Edward Hearn (Captain's Mate), Joe Sawyer (Sergeant Hunt), W.S. Van Dyke (Inspector White), Peter Freuchen (Captain); Runtime: 114; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Hunt Stromberg/W.S. Van Dyke; MGM; 1933)|
|"Looks like a
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Freuchen's books on the Eskimo ways served as the basis for John
Lee Mahin's screenplay. Director W.S. Van
Dyke ("The Thin
Man"/"Trader Horn"/"Tarzan, the Ape Man")
took his cast and
crew on location to the
Arctic. He went to the topmost settlement in Alaska by whaling schooner with author Freuchen as his
Van Dyke filmed the mostly
Eskimo cast and reflected on the natives allowed to
have more than one
wife and showed them doing their normal activities,
such as hunting
walrus and spear-fishing for salmon. During these
times the film looks
like a documentary.
Van Dyke also added a fictionalized melodramatic
revolving around the film's native star, Mala. It
follows the Eskimo
500 miles across the frozen tundra with his wife and
destination is Tjarnak, where Mala plans to trade furs
with the white captain of a whaling expedition. Mala
but the ship's captain is a treacherous character who
rapes his wife.
Mala harpoons him to death, and he's tracked down by
the Royal Canadian
Mounties--only to escape from them and rejoin his
eskimo clan in the
Though not successful
box-office, the film remains interesting as a look at
an early way of
shooting a docudrama.
REVIEWED ON 2/2/2011 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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