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  • While noting that this movie has been rightly compared, in concept, to The Searchers (1956), here it's the frozen landscape, instead of the arid hot badlands of John Ford's classic, that forms the forbidding setting.

    For much of the 94 minutes of viewing time, we are on, or running with, dog sleds across the frozen tundra: three Inuit men have kidnapped the wife and daughter of an Inuit man; they also killed the grandmother. Together with his son, the two set of in a quest to rescue the women and render swift justice to the miscreants.

    The vista passing, and on the horizon, is almost hypnotic. But, there's no sleeping on this journey. Just relentless silence mostly, and punctuated only by the imperative calls of "Hey! Hey!" to keep the dogs moving; and with harsh cloudy breathing as the men work furiously to catch the murderers. Occasionally, they stop to feed the dogs and themselves with frozen meat.

    Suspense quickly builds as they find the murderers' tracks as next day dawns. Hours later, the searchers stop while the father creeps to the top of a small hill to search with his telescope. He sees evidence of the bad guys and speeds up the pace. We later see, from the murderers' perspective, that they are now aware they are being followed. So, the gang leader sets up a trap....

    The suspense now racks up even more, as you might expect, while the two good guys approach. So now, I must leave it up to you to see the brutal end, and who survives.

    Apart from the opening act in the family's igloo, with the three bad guys as guests, the story moves quickly, literally and figuratively. There's nothing false about the setting, the people and the culture, all of which provides an almost semi-documentary aspect to this tale. Indeed, it was knowing the setting which attracted me most, going in: how difficult is it to make a dramatic movie in such frigid conditions, I wondered? I wasn't disappointed.

    Highly recommended. Nine out of ten.

    August 18, 2019
  • If revenge is a dish best served cold, then the arctic is an enthralling place for such a story. A trio of irreverent Inuk bullies wreak havoc on the unfortunate souls who happen to cross their path. In the darkness of night, they plunder, kidnap and kill. A father and son, aggrieved by these marauders, pledge vengeance. They ask Kallulik, a bird spirit (the loon), for help in the pursuit.

    Authentic to the core, the film audience is treated with real Inuk characters, clothing, tattoos and dog sled teams, actual igloos glowing with the light of interior heating fires, the crack of the dog whip, the eerie arctic quiet and the crunch of raw, frozen fish and bones. Ice beards and misty breaths attest that it is truly cold outside. The sun is extremely close to the horizon even at mid-day. It is a fantastic setting. The eclectic atmosphere is further enhanced by ambient music and Inuk chants. The acting is adequate yet more intriguing for its genuine characters. The second half of the film did not live up to the excitement and promise of the first. The film loosely follows the outline of John Ford's 1956 western, the Searchers. Seen at the Miami International Film Festival.
  • Maliglutit (Searchers) is inspired by the 1950 John Ford western "The Searchers". In the original, a white woman is kidnapped by members of the Comanche Nation. In this version, the narrative is flipped and all the characters in the film are Inuit. The film is action packed, suspense filled, and beautifully written and directed. It is at many times calming and then suddenly intense, which makes for a riveting viewing experience. This film would be enjoyed by those who love action, suspense, and thrillers and also those who enjoy broadening their film experience across cultures. Anyone who has watched the 1950's version should watch this remake.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Zacharias Kunuk, after pioneering Inuit and Nunavut cinema in 2001 with his acclaimed Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner, hasn't had much luck replicating that critical success. That's understandable. Atanarjuat was a hit, but even after, getting a film off the ground in tiny Nunavut remains an uphill battle; Maliglutit is only his third feature in 15 years.

    It doesn't totally disappoint. The landscapes and scenery offer a goldmine for cinematographers, production designers and directors, and they successfully utilize those resources. The actors and actresses are mostly novices (vets Natar Ungalaaq and Lucy Tulugarjuk stayed largely behind the scenes on this one) but do well; in fact I think the performances here are better than Atanarjuat's. Alas, at only 90 minutes, Maliglutit still somehow manages to drag at times; too much sitting around, looking around, in silence. You almost want to yell at them, "Get on that ice and run, and search! What's the title of this movie?"

    Even after that, the ending feels abrupt. Kill the bad guy, and after the elder's brief, banal non-advice ("Keep going in hard times"), credits roll. Pacing is the issue here, and contemplation should have been saved for the ending, not strewn throughout the film where it didn't belong.
  • frantastika17 February 2017
    This film was surprisingly captivating considering the slow pace that can make some viewers impatient... But if you let yourself be immersed in the beauty and the drama there will be not a single moment to spare. The story is quite simple but the photography is extraordinary, the music is excellent and scenery of the remote areas are all breathtaking. Best to see it at the cinema to fully appreciate but otherwise see it anyway.
  • While this film is undoubtedly nice to look at, I'm not sure it's worth sitting through an hour and a half of a thinly stretched plot to catch some of the lesser shots from an arctic documentary.

    The idea of retelling the classic Ford film from the perspective of Inuit natives is a genuinely neat concept. It's basically the only reason I went to see Searchers. The problem is that this film doesn't really seem to understand what it is about its predecessor that made it so great (Beyond John Ford's skills as a director). The nuanced commentary on the relationship between the classic western and the American Indian is nonexistent here. The original story is stripped to its most basic elements, which reduces it to nothing more than a drawn out, slow speed, sled chase. It's really difficult to stay invested in the story after it gets going, because at a certain point you realize that there's only so much that can happen in a barren tundra whose sole inhabitants seem to be the on-screen characters and their frozen meat.

    In all fairness, I think this film has value as a sort of pseudo- documentary. I'm sure people who love this film are inclined to go on endlessly about how authentic it is. I would have to agree, though it doesn't do all that much to help the film as a whole. There were a number of times where I thought "Oh that's cool, I didn't know Inuits did that." I can tell the director wants to do right by the subjects of his film. I appreciate the sentiment. The problem though, is that this film is not a documentary. It is meant to convey actual dramatic value, which it doesn't really pull off very well. We barely understand the characters and at a certain point I just had to accept that they're really more meant to act as a sort of abstraction of the Inuit people. That seems like a good way to approach the film as a whole. It's an abstraction. I don't know if that's what the director intended, but that's the best excuse I can come up with.

    This film isn't terrible. It is genuinely beautiful with some cinematography which I actually think really complimented the sort of desert setting we're observing. There are also homages to The Searchers which I feel are executed fairly well from a visual stand point (Again though, the homage is sort of undercut by a sort of misunderstanding of the source material). If you're a fan of the original western or are interested in learning a little bit about the Inuit people then I might recommend this film. Honestly though, what I would rather recommend is that you either just go back and watch the original Ford film again or a comprehensive documentary on the Inuit people.

    For everyone else, I wouldn't bother.