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Askew Review 15

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(Lot 47) aka Atanarjuat. DVD. Lot 47 Films. Drama. Approx 2.5 hours. Rated R. Inuktitut language with English subtitles. A small Arctic community of people living in tents and igloos is cursed by an unknown shaman that plagues the tribe with evil for years. Atanarjuat is madly in love with Atuat, and vice versa, but standing in their way to happiness is Oki, the tribe leaderís son whom Atuat has already been promised to in a prearranged marriage. Tired of the constant threats and bickering over Atuat, the tribe leader orders the men to partake in a ritualistic fight with the winner being awarded the prized woman. As if the conflict over Atuat wasnít enough fuel for the fire, Okiís sister Puja decides to throw her whoring self into the mix causing an explosion that angers and saddens everyone in the tribe. The result of the fight and Pujaís behavior sets off a string of events that lead to murder, revenge, and Atanarjuat running naked for his life across the Arctic ice. 
Based on an ancient Inuit legend, The Fast Runner tells a tale of how damaging it can be to put oneís personal desire above the needs of oneís tribe. Iíll tell you, for a movie that started off a tad slowly; The Fast Runner really pulled me in and had me totally engrossed. As I watched this movie, I found myself intrigued at the characterís lifestyle, but as time passed, the intrigue turned into captivity as the story released its tension and gripped its clutches around my throat. The Arctic lifestyle and survival plotline is nicely agitated with the tension between Atanarjuat and Oki, while the entire Puja fiasco just seems to make things run deeper between many characters. All of the characters are well developed, but it was hard at times to judge the acting due to my ignorance of the Inuktitut language (I knew I would regret taking woodshop over Inuktitut in high school) and how it is properly communicated. However, I found everything extremely believable and could see the intentions of the characterís true emotions. Puja (Lucy Tulugarjuk) is the cutest female here, but because of her sucky personality, I also hated her the most. The eating of animals will definitely gross out overly sensitive PETA types and vegetarians, but hey, itís not like these people can grow a garden of veggies in the snow (snow peas maybe?)!  The only beef I have with this movie is the subtitles are sometimes tough to read during bright scenes. The DVD picture is beautiful and the sound is crystal. On an interesting note, The Fast Runner was filmed on location in Igloolik (community of 1,200 people located on a small island in the north Baffin region of the Canadian Arctic) and is the first-ever film in the Inuktitut language. Great job by producer/director Zacharia Kunuk, a ground-breaker in Inuit filmmaking. Although I highly recommend this movie based on its story, how could you not want to be witness to the first ever Inuktitut language film? Ė Denis Sheehan



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