Canadian Painting

film 1 of 5

The Living Stone

Film Review by Dean Duncan May 21, 2015

This documentary about Inuit artists is an interesting combination of multiple, somewhat incompatible, sort of reconcilable energies and impulses. It’s got lots of Robert Flaherty-like idealization, and folklorization. It’s also got RF’s attention to the details—textures, durations—of physical process, and of its cultural foundation as well. That’s not idealization any more! It does distill and disseminate actual ideals, however.

It also features a (John) Griersonian update, which pulls back from the particular to portray something of contemporary reality, and the contemporary challenges that it brings. As with so many Grierson produced films, we get all that, but we get it softly.

The individuals—quite individualized too—and their various spaces are powerfully rendered. This rendering is just slightly undercut by a narration that has something of the dusty educational lecture about it.

Not wholly successful, nor at all bad, on any of these counts. Put ’em all together? Really fascinating, maybe essential.