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Legends and Life of the Inuit

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In the vast windswept whiteness of the North, voices sing, chant and tell stories. Inuit children gather round to hear elders tell about the owl who is flattered into letting its prey escape, or why the raven is black, or the terrible fate of the selfish woman who abandons her blind son, or how the wily hunters manages to escape from the giants who want to eat him. Legends are more than a way of passing the long Arctic night. Often speaking through indigenous animals, they transmit the ancestral wisdom essential to survival in this inhospitable land: the need to know oneself, to share with others and to live in harmony with nature. In Legends and Life of the Inuit, these timeless tales are evoked through animation, prints, and carvings in bone, ivory or soapstone. Traditional life is depicted in archival photographs and footage from ethnographic documentaries. The jarring intrusion of scenes of modern life in the North hints at the danger of this ancient culture being lost as the Inuit embrace southern values. This video features excerpts from the Netsilik documentary series and films illustrating Inuit legends by animators Co Hoedeman (The Owl and the Lemming, The Owl and the Raven, Lumaaq and The Man and the Giant) and Caroline Leaf (The Owl Who Married a Goose).

1978, 57 min 46 s