Igloolik, "place of houses," in the eastern arctic wilderness at the dawn of the first millenium.
Evil in the form of a mysterious, unknown shaman enters a small community of nomadic Inuit and upsets its balance and spirit of cooperation. The stranger leaves behind a lingering curse of bitterness and discord: after the camp leader Kumaglak is murdered, the new leader Sauri drives his old rival Tulimaq down through mistreatment and ridicule.
Power begins to change when the resentful Tulimaq has two sons - Amaqjuaq, the Strong One, and Atanarjuat, the Fast Runner. As the camp's best hunters they provoke jealousy and rage in their rival, Oki, the leader's ill-tempered son.
When Atanarjuat wins away Oki's promised wife-to-be, the beautiful Atuat, in a head punching competition, Oki vows to get even.
Egged on by his intimidating father, Oki and his friends plot to murder both brothers while they sleep. Amaqjuaq is speared through their tent and killed, but Atanarjuat miraculously escapes, running naked for his life across the spring sea ice.
Eluding his pursuers with supernatural help, Atanarjuat is hidden and nursed back to health by an old couple who themselves fled the evil camp years before.
After an inner struggle to reclaim his spiritual path, and with the guidance of his elder advisor, Atanarjuat learns to face both natural and supernatural enemies, and heads home to rescue his family. Will he continue the bloody cycle of revenge, or restore harmony to the community?
Atanarjuat - The Fast Runner is based on an ancient Inuit legend which takes place in the area around Igloolik. Follow the detailed story of the film in Legend on the Land
Atanarjuat (2001), aka The Fast Runner, is an Inuit production telling the myth of Atanarjuat, a story which includes adultery, evil spirits, murder, jealousy, and caries the important message for that culture that the family unit has to get along and live for the good of the group to survive in the tundra. As the Inuit had no written language, the story was handed down in oral tradition. When they decided to make the film, that had several elders recount their version of the myth, then wrote the story based on all the versions. ,P>Like many indigenous people, the Inuit are largely unemployed, and have a suicide rate ten times the rate in the general population. Most of them have not learned their cultural heritage, and have lost the sense of community. This production crew is solving several problems at once. They brought in experienced film makers to train an Inuit crew, cast nothing but Inuit people, and shot the entire film in Inuit land. They carefully researched the tools, clothes, canoes and dwellings of the ancient Inuit people, taught the skills to the props and set folks, and all costumes, props and locations were created using traditional methods and materials. They made a real point to be as accurate as possible, as they were preserving Inuit cultural heritage for their own people, and educating the world.
As an example, igloos in "southern Inuit movies" not made by Inuit, are lit by a huge torch or fire in the middle of the Styrofoam igloo. Here, they used the traditional seal oil lighting, which is carefully tended small flame, in real ice igloos. In other words, everything about the production is as authentic as possible. Cast and crew lived on the tundra in harsh conditions during shooting, in traditional dwellings -- igloos in winter, and hide tents in summer.
The myth, briefly, starts with an evil shaman arriving amid the clan, killing the good ruler, and leaving a creep in his place. The father of Atanarjuat and his older brother, The Strong One, is a good man, but beset by bad luck and scorn from the leader. His two sons, however, are the hope of the clan. Atanarjuat and Atuat are in love, but Atuat has been promised to the evil son of the evil leader, Oki. Atanarjuat and his brother are better hunters than Oki, and much better liked, so Oki and his two friends have a vendetta against them. Oki's sister, Puja, decides to marry Atanarjuat, both because she is in lust with him, and because she hopes it will break up the romance between Atuat and Atanarjuat. That doesn't work, and Oki finally challenges Atanarjuat to a fight, the winner getting Atuat.
Atanarjuat wins, and Oki swears to kill him. Early one morning, Puja screws Atanarjuat's brother, starting world war three. Atanarjuat is furious at his brother, the brother's wife is furious at her, and Puja runs home to daddy, claiming that her husband tried to kill her for no reason. Oki and his friends ambush the two brothers while they are asleep, and kill the older brother. Atanarjuat escapes naked on foot, outrunning them. He recovers, and, with the help of the dead former clan head's spirit, restores order to the clan.
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