The early careers of acclaimed documentary filmmaker Robert Flaherty and his wife, Frances, deepen our understanding of the classic film Nanook of the North.
Robert Flaherty's groundbreaking Nanook of the North (1922) - the chronicle of one year in the life of an Inuit hunter and his family in the Hudson Bay region - was the first full-length anthropological documentary in cinematic history. Before Nanook, Flaherty endured a number of failures, disappointments, and false starts. Drawing from the unpublished diaries of Flaherty and his wife, Frances, Robert Christopher's biography fills in crucial background in the emergence of a documentary film legend.
Previous biographical emphasis on Nanook has not only obscured Flaherty's early career but also neglected the critical contributions Frances made to his development as an artist. Robert and Frances Flaherty charts her transformation from a Bryn Mawr bluestocking to the partner of a frontier explorer and offers her unique perspective as his collaborator and publicist.
From iron prospector to photographer to filmmaker, Flaherty's early life is situated in the context of his explorations of the Canadian north and its peoples, the development of modern cinema, the rise of modernism, and his association with significant figures such as Alfred Adler, Franz Boas, Edward Curtis, and Alfred Steiglitz.