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Robert Flaherty's pioneering 1922 documentary. Flaherty wasn't much of an ethnologist—he routinely staged scenes for his camera and insisted that his subjects return to traditions they'd abandoned generations before—yet he was a master dramatist whose ability to evoke primal conflicts is undiminished today. Nanook, of course, is a study of Inuit life in the arctic circle; its star—a tiny, irresistibly charming man—died of starvation a few years after the film's release.

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