Atanarjuat, the Fast Runner (no, I can't pronounce the first part either) has been hailed as the first film to be made in the Inuit language, and is based on an ancient legend from the Inuit peoples. A simple premise, the movie predominantly follows two brothers, Amaqjuaq the Strong One (Innushuk) and our hero, Atanarjuat, the Fast Runner (Ungalaq), both of whom have been long time rivals with Oki (Arnatsiaq). Things take a messy turn when Atanarjuat hooks up with Atuat (Ivalu); the local beauty whom Oki had always believed would become his wife. Needless to say, Oki doesn't take this development too well and plans a savage revenge.The movie won the Camera D'Or at Cannes in 2001, and it's undeniable that Atanarjuat the Fast Runner is a beautiful-looking, well made and acted film, with the icy landscape of Northern Canada brilliantly photographed by Norman Cohn. Where it falters, however, is with the hugely excessive running time, and the lack of any real narrative thrust. It could be argued that director Kunuk is establishing characterisation and mood, but after three ass-numbing hours, the payoff should have been much more than the entertaining one presented.
Review by Garreth Murphy | 09:00 | Friday 8th February 2002 | Movie Review