review by Ken Gumbs
I want to know what the producer of Fast Runner’s line was when pitching the film to possible crewmembers. ‘Hey, we got this film that we are shooting on video in the middle of the Artic. Yeah, it’s going to take like a year and we won’t release it for like five years, and then in art houses only. What’s it about? Well it’s called Fast Runner and it’s a coming of age love story filled with inter-tribal conflict passed on through the generations of the Inuit culture. Um...are you interested in working on it? Very little pay. Hello? Hello?’ Well I’m here to thank that director and that producer and that crew and anyone else I can thank, Fast Runner is phenomenal, sure to be the best film you haven’t seen this year.
Atanarjuat is an Inuit Indian living in the tundra of Northern Canada. The audience is invited into a few
seasons in the life of this great man. Hero he is not. Human he most definitely is. Atanarjuat (or Fast Runner in English) at first glance seems a world away from a Hollywood protagonist, but under the surface lays a touching story lead by a wonderful main character.
Culturally, Ethnically, and geographically Atanarjuat is most definitely very different from you or I. His life may be present day or long before recorded time. A wonderful lesson is learned when realized that human
is human, despite petty differences (like computers or movies or electricity). Atanarjuat is very much like
you or I. He is a poor hunter living in the shadows of his brother. Begging for scraps from other tribe
members is not rare for he and his family. He tells his family that hunting will pick up and the fruit of their very lives will be regained. With those proud words we see a gleam in Fast Runner’s eyes and an awkward smile that is nothing but heartbreaking. In a rare occurrence in cinema, we as Western civilized culture can relate completely to the “Uncivilized” world. Atanarjuat is a human like you or I, not a subject to be studied from a distance by the peering lenses of the National Geographic or Discovery Channel. Now human emotion and cinematic melodrama can bring together cultures that would never meet if not for such a beautiful work of art…god, I love film.
Back to the film, we see Atanarjuat over the course of the next few seasons gain strength as a person, as
a hunter, and even stumble into a love triangle. Much like many males of his culture, Atanarjuat takes two
women’s hands in marriage. After being caught in the mists of an affair, one of Fast runner’s embarrassed
wives begin to lie about abuse and plot an assassination along with an enemy of Fast Runner. Wow, culture awakening, melodrama, love affairs, murder, what doesn’t this film have? While the assassination is initially a failure, Atanarjuat leaves only to come back a stronger man than ever before. He is ready to put the past behind him, and return to his still-loving wife.
A Hollywood epic story with real indie integrity and great filmmaking. I was more impressed with this film than anything I have seen in years. While Hollywood has certainly made more beautiful and technically brilliant films, they haven’t made anything like Fast Runner. Using real Inuit Indians as actors, and the frozen tundra of Canada as a backdrop, the film was funded in part by the Canadian Arts Council. For a hundred million dollars you could get any Hollywood film made, for 100 billion dollars you could not buy the authenticity and true cinematic brilliance of Fast Runner.
respond to email@example.com