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In the Land of the War Canoes

In the Land of the War Canoes ©1972 University of Washington Press)

Director Edward S. Curtis
Country/Production Canada / USA
Release 1972
Length 47 mins
Format B&W / DVD or VHS / PAL / All region
Location Canada, North Baffin Island / Pacific
Ethnic Group Kwakiutl
Comments Original title in 1914: In the Land of the Head-Hunters

Order No RAI-200.20
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The plot concerns the efforts of a young man, Motana, son of a great chief, to obtain a bride and how he is thwarted by a wicked sorcerer. Many of the conventions of early film narrative can be identified in the film's structure and organisation.The film vanished and was completely forgotten and only rediscovered in 1962 by Bill Holms at the Field Museum in Washington. In 1972 the film was restored and re-edited by Holms, David Gerth and George Quimby, with soundtrack of songs and dialogue by the Kwakiutl. The name of the new version was changed to 'In the Land of the War Canoes' when the Kwakiutl objected to Curtis' original title. Although the original material had suffered some nitrate damage over the years, the film is an artistic triumph by one of the finest photographers and an invaluable ethnographic resource of a vanishing culture. The war canoes and totems, built by the Kwakiutl for the film, represent some of the largest great work of their traditional art.

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