The Fast Runner (Atanarjuat)

Rated 5.0

Inuit filmmaker Zacharias Kunuk conjures up the dramatic arc of an ancient Arctic folk epic and the cultural detail of Nanook of the North in a mesmerizing 3-hour tale of mysticism, betrayal, murder, revenge and survival in a relentlessly stark environment. We are introduced to the title character as a baby. An evil shaman enters the camp of his family, plunging the film into a universal clash between good and evil. This conflict manifests itself years later when Atanarjuat (Natar Ungalaaq) pursues a relationship with a young woman (Sylvia Avalu) bequeathed to the son (Peter-Henry Arnatsiaq) of the camp chief. Startling oscillations in human morality parallel the vivid contrast of claustrophobic igloo interiors with the wide expanse of the Canadian North in a rare, jaw-dropping communion of artistry and anthropology. The film includes a classic 10-minute throwback to The Naked Prey in which three armed clansmen chase a naked Atanarjuat across a field of ice.