Movies: The Ice Capade

Based on an ancient legend passed down orally through the centuries, the remarkable Inuit epic "The Fast Runner (Atanarjuat)" takes us inside a culture that we're used to seeing through the inevitably condescending eyes of outsiders. This stunning tale of a community battling against Evil is filled with primal epic emotions: love and jealousy, betrayal and revenge, hatred and forgiveness. Its highlight is an astonishing chase across vast frozen wastes in which the naked, shoeless hero (played by Natar Ungalaaq), who has married the woman his mortal enemy covets, is pursued by three assassins. You've never seen anything quite like it: something you can say, in fact, about much of this severely beautiful three-hour movie, which was awarded the Camera d'Or at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival for best first film.

The cast, most of the crew, the writer (the late Paul Apak Angilirq) and the director (Zacharias Kunuk) are all Inuit. They shot the film on a remote island in the Canadian Arctic, using wide-screen digital video, which was then transferred to 35mm. The somewhat confusing first 30 minutes demand patience, but once the drama kicks in, "The Fast Runner" holds you easily in its spell. A good story is a good story. In a time of decadent visual clutter, the stark beauty of these Arctic landscapes is bracing. I happened to see this the same day as "Attack of the Clones." It was like tasting a juicy barbecued steak after microwaved frozen fast food. Pure cinematic protein.

Movies: The Ice Capade | News