Atanarjuat (The Fast Runner), dir. Zacharias Kunuk. This
much-awarded film is an astonishing achievement for a first-time director.
Using Inuit myth, it covers the territory of all great epic and saga.
The story centres on Atanarjuat of the film's title, the 'fast runner',
but the concerns stretch to far more than individual struggle. Society
must be healthy if people are to be happy; vengeance must stop somewhere;
evil must be dealt with, but not in such a way as to make the good people
evil too. Atanarjuat and his older brother Amaqjuaq are marginalised because
of power struggles in their father's generation. Their talents and hunting
skills cause Oki, the group-leader's son, to become violently jealous.
Then Atanarjuat wins the beautiful Atuat from Oki in a brutal traditional
head-punching contest. After a series of intrigues and betrayals, Oki
and his cronies murder Amaqjuaq as he sleeps in a tent with his younger
brother. Atanarjuat escapes naked across the melting snow and ice fields,
finding help in extremis.
The Navigators, dir. Ken Loach. Loach, in his unobtrusive, startling
way, follows a chrome-yellow-clad gang of rail-track workers (the navvies
of another age) as they negotiate the Third-Way world of modern British
industry. We meet them first as a sparky unionised team, inheritors of
a working-class culture and a few health and safety standards. They become
casualised units of a privatised railway infrastructure before our eyes.
And we are forced to watch, like accomplices, as more than their Yorkshire
wit and camaraderie wears away.
Reproduction of material from any Jesuit Publications pages