Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner



IMDb Rating 7.4/10 10 6822 6.8K

Plot summary

Based on a local legend and set in an unknown era, it deals with universal themes of love, possessiveness, family, jealousy and power. Beautifully shot, and acted by Inuit people, it portrays a time when people fought duels by taking turns to punch each other until one was unconscious, made love on the way to the caribou hunt, ate walrus meat and lit their igloos with seal-oil lamps.

January 31, 2024 at 02:06 PM


Zacharias Kunuk

Top cast

730.78 MB
Inuktitut 2.0
25 fps
1 hr 22 min
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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Spuzzlightyear 7 / 10

Goes down easy

For the longest time, I sort of avoided Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner, as I knew the movie was a long one, and about Inuit legend, something that really didn't appeal to me. But when the title became available, I decided to, as they say, throw caution into the wind, and watch this. After finishing it, I'm really glad I had the experience, as it's a pretty amazing movie, both in it's story and the sheer fact that it got made. The story is about one man, Atanarjuat, and his daily life in the cold harsh arctic. He seems to get along well with the other Inuit, but soon, a power struggle erupts, and soon he has to rely on the powers within himself and others to overcome great odds thrown in his way. Again, the sheer fact that this was made, and the fact that they found actors in the caliber of performance that Natar Ungalaaq Pulls off is nothing short of remarkable. I don't know the full story of how this was made, but I am sure these are first time actors here, and they just ace it. Probably because the story hits so close to home. The lead actor, Natar Ungalaaq is to be especially commended for taking so many acting risks as he did (running naked on ice floes??) The only problem I have with this, and this seems to be a common complaint with people who watched this, is that it's quite hard for the first hour or so, to figure out who's who. But other than that, yeah, try to see this one if you can, you'll be glad you did.

Reviewed by taikman 7 / 10

Intriguing and beautiful though drawn-out.

A man runs naked across a plain of ice and snow, his feet bloody and his eyes desperate as he glances back at his hunters. When he falls, even having just come in from the sweltering summer heat, you feel the cold.

This is the best scene in ‘Atanarjuat, the Fast Runner', a movie very different from any other you will have seen. What makes it so special is that it is about and made entirely by the Inuit of Canada. It immerses you in the harsh, nearly desolate world of a tiny Arctic community.

In such a small group, where a few families live in confined spaces, tensions can be explosive. The story is centered around the rivalry of Atanarjuat and Oki over Atuat, a rivalry which echoes that of their fathers, Tulimaq or Sauri, for leadership of the tribe. In the prologue to the main story we see Sauri assassinate his father with the aid of an evil spirit who continues to haunt the tribe. The struggles of the families of Tulimaq and Sauri lead to a betrayal and a murder that sends the naked man running across the ice.

It is a good story, though it is long, slow and sometimes hard to follow. What makes it so memorable is the remarkable lifestyle that it makes seem so real. From dogsleds and ritual combat to seduction and exorcism, we see many of the facets of pre-modern Inuit life, which was built entirely on just two things: water and the flesh and bones of Arctic animals. The acting is completely convincing, the music is sparingly but powerfully used and the cinematography captures both the beauty and cruelty of that vast wilderness in the north of the world. It is something far from the conventions of Hollywood and if you have the patience, you will find it fascinating.


Reviewed by Nazi_Fighter_David 7 / 10

The film makes the most of the immense snowy landscape

It tells a legend from the two thousand years ago, about Atanarjuat, who incurs the jealous enmity of Oki when he marries Atuat… Oki kills Atanarjuat's brother, but Atanarjuat escapes in a stunning sequence, running naked across the ice floes, outstripping his pursuers until, his feet torn and bloody, he is taken in by a friendly sorcerer…

The motion picture concedes nothing in the way of authenticity, with sequences that show in realistic detail the training of sled-dogs, cutting up animal carcasses or making an igloo… But the convincing ethnographic elements only serve to intensify the compelling story and characters, which take on a truly epic dimension…

If the purpose of a national cinema is to represent the culture of the peoples it belongs to, then "Atanarjuat" achieves this victoriously, both the content of the film and the manner of its telling being wholly specific to Canada, yet in the process achieving a universal appeal

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