Monday, November 3, 2008


Not only did I not get to as many Halloween movies as I would have liked, but I haven’t been doing much at all in the way of film writing for KidsFlix, as I’ve been a bit distracted with the election. My volunteering time has cut a bit into my other writing, that which pays the bills, and so the blog has taken a back seat.

But today, before I run off to another phone bank fest, I thought I’d whip out a quick write-up on a movie I was reminded about the other day... it’s about fighting the odds, and surviving in the face of deep adversity. It’s also about people from vastly different cultures coming together, learning from each other, and helping each other.

I’m hoping it’s a reflection of the outcome of November 4, let’s be honest.

Anyway, the movie is Canadian, and it’s called The Snow Walker (2003). I’ve mentioned it to a surprising number of parents who don’t know it, and am delighted to recommend it here. (If you live in cold, snowy winter climates, get it now before the last thing you want on your TV screen is more snow!)

This is a beautiful, lush, mature film, based on the short story "Walk Well, My Brother" by Farley Mowat. It stars native Inuit, a sprinkling of Canadian actors (the only “known” name in the cast is American actor James Cromwell), and of course incredibly gorgeous landscapes and cinematography.

Lead actress Annabella Piugattuk, an Inuit with very little acting experience, was cast in the role partially due to her knowledge of traditional culture, such as hunting and survival techniques, and to her fluency in both English and Inuit. She is fantastic as the ailing villager who survives a crash landing in a small plane, along with the hothead pilot (Barry Pepper), who has agreed to take the sick girl to a nearby hospital. He’s a supplies pilot, flying around the high arctic, delivering food and other necessities to people in remote places, but he doesn’t know much about what it takes to actually survive out there on the icy tundra.

To the director’s credit, neither character is cartoonishly stereotyped; they are human, armed with all the traits that both help us and hurt us as we make our way through life, learning as we go. The struggle for survival is told with humor, compassion and suspense, and it makes for very successful cinematic escape.

It has a strong PG-rating, meaning there is unappealing adult behavior (racism, booze), harsh language, some blood and gore (skinning animals, finding dead bodies), and is not for younger kids. I believe K was about nine when we watched, and it was fine, but I felt it was right on the cusp of being too much for him. I might also add here that the film starts off just a tad slow, especially for the kiddies who are used to fast-moving animation and things exploding every 30 seconds on the screen... but it quickly becomes very engrossing, very entertaining and very, very satisfying.

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