Robert Flaherty

Robert Flaherty

American director, screenwriter, cameraman and producer
Date of Birth: 16.02.1884
Country: USA

  1. Biography of Robert Flaherty
  2. Nanook of the North
  3. Moana of the South Seas
  4. Later Career
  5. Later Works and Legacy

Biography of Robert Flaherty

Robert Flaherty (February 16, 1884 – July 23, 1951) was an American director, screenwriter, cinematographer, and producer. He was born in a small town on the border of the United States and Canada in the state of Michigan. After completing college and initial courses at a mining school in 1910, Flaherty participated in exploratory expeditions, during which he kept a journal. In the Hudson Bay, he filmed for the first time footage of the life of Canadian Eskimos, which was unfortunately damaged during editing.

Nanook of the North

Finding subsidies for a film expedition from a trading company, Flaherty returned to the North in the autumn of 1919 and filmed the movie "Nanook of the North" (Nanook Of The North), which premiered in 1922 and brought the director fame. The film not only showcased expressive scenes of the almost primitive way of life of the northern peoples unknown to the civilized world, but also formed a new perspective on reality for the filmmaker.

Moana of the South Seas

Flaherty did not aim to reproduce on screen the small details of his protagonist's life. He was concerned with the hidden symbolic essence of seemingly simple scenes depicting the life of the Nanook family. The worldwide success of "Nanook of the North" caught the attention of Hollywood company Paramount, which signed a contract with Flaherty. The director went to Polynesia and filmed the movie "Moana of the South Seas" (Moana, 1926), which also highlighted the central issues of the relationship between Man and Nature. However, despite its refined poetic imagery and sophisticated editing, the film did not achieve commercial success.

Later Career

The same fate awaited the films "The Twenty-Four Dollar Island" (1927) and "The Pottery Maker's Story" (1925), which were also released in the same year. Producers attempted to combine Flaherty's work with that of other directors, such as the films "White Shadows in the South Seas" (1931) with F. Murnau. Compromise was foreign to Flaherty's talent and did not bring success. He completed the production of "Tabu" (1931), but the sentimental plot and melodramatic passions of the actors were alien to the artistic principles of the documentarian.

Later Works and Legacy

Invited by the head of the British school of documentary film, John Grierson, Flaherty traveled to England and, after collaborating with Grierson on the film "Industrial Britain" (1932), he made his best film, "Man of Aran" (1934). The film received an award at the Venice Film Festival in 1934. After an unsuccessful attempt to create a feature film together with English director Zoltan Korda, titled "Elephant Boy" (1937) based on R. Kipling's work, Flaherty was only able to make an independent film in 1941. Commissioned by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, he filmed "The Land" (1941). However, the ecological message of Flaherty's work was not accepted by the government, and the film was banned.

Flaherty's last film, "Louisiana Story" (1948, awarded at the Venice Film Festival), was commissioned by an oil company and allowed the director once again to create a profound and symbolic philosophical tale. Flaherty's body of work remains compelling to this day, a captivating artistic world where reality is transformed by the powerful talent of the artist into incredibly rich cinematic images that, while preserving the aura of natural life, inspire contemplation of eternity.