Copyright 1995 ABC-CLIO. This review was taken from the ABC-CLIO Video Rating Guide for Libraries on CD-ROM, a 5-year compilation of over 8900 video titles and reviews, 1990-1994. For information regarding order VRGL CD-ROM, contact: ABC-CLIO, P.O. Box 1911, Santa Barbara, CA 93116-1911; 805-968-1911

This following text has been included in the UCB Media Resources Center Web site with the kind permission of the publishers.

Between Two Worlds

  • Rating: *****
  • Audience: Jr. High to Adult
  • Price: Public performance: $390.00
  • Date: Copyright 1990. Released 1991.
  • Descriptors: Indians of North America - Canada. Indian-White relations. Inuit.
  • Production Information: Live action, Film transfer. Produced by Peter Raymont. Directed by Barry Greenwald. Narrated by William Whitehead. Sponsored by National Film Board of Canada. Color. Also available in 16 mm. Includes Guide. English, Inuit. Subtitled. 58 min.
  • Production Company: Investigative Productions
  • Available from: First Run/Icarus Films 153 Waverly Pl., 6th Floor New York, NY 10014 (212)243-0600
  • Cataloging: 305.089'971 Idlout, Joseph||Eskimos - Canada, Northern||Eskimos - Cultural assimilation
  • Awards: National Educational Film & Video Festival Gold Apple award, 1991.
  • Print Entry #: 3:912
  • Reviewer: Eleanor Becher
  • There is a fascination with traditional Native American cultures, as if their disappearance not only precluded understanding historical events, but also some esoteric aspect of ourselves. This documentary is about an Inuit man named Joseph Idlout, who had been exemplified as the ideal Eskimo hunter in a 1951 film by Doug Wilkinson, Land of the Long Day. Idlout had also received attention by being pictured on a Canadian two dollar bill, a tribute to him and to a way of life soon to end.

    The fame and the misfortunes of this man are examined from the time he hunted seals for his extended family to his isolation in a fringe community near an air force base. When an outpost was established at Pond Inlet, Idlout, unlike many Eskimos, was able to cross the threshold from life on the tundra to that of a market economy. His hunting prowess, his knowledge of the land, his leadership, and his character made him valuable and respected. While at Pond Inlet, Idlout acquired trappings of Western society by supplying silver fox furs to the Hudson's Bay Company. But fox became scarce and Idlout derailed into debt. By then, the Inuit were given Canadian citizenship, and with it the obligation to have their children educated at day schools. Hoping to recoup his losses, Idlout moved to Resolute Bay, unprepared for the fact that he would have no status. Originally impressed and intimidated by white officialdom, the Inuit quickly found themselves without the former discipline or satisfactions. Idlout, who had seemed to gain the most when he offered up his skills, found the door ajar but the welcome ambivalent.

    Between Two Worlds depicts the collision of cultures, but there are common underlying implications concerning self-effacement and arrogance, the rhythms of life, and the listening to nature and hearing the cacophony of unending wants and needs. This is an absorbing production, creatively searching the past for clues to the present. Using film footage and archival material, the program's flashbacks contrast the prime of Idlout with his decline.

    This work leaves a feeling of change not just on the landscape but within oneself. The narration by William Whitehead lingers. The essence of a Native American man seems to have been cast by history, but history seems to have a parable in this individual who tried to embrace both worlds and could not hold them. In addition to the general public, this is a program for sociology and anthropology courses, high school social studies, and courses with a Native American emphasis. It would even have relevance for programs in psychology.

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