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Films on IceCinemas of the Arctic$
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Scott MacKenzie and Anna Westerstahl Stenport

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780748694174

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748694174.001.0001

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Fact and Fiction in ‘Northerns’ and Early ‘Arctic’ Films

Fact and Fiction in ‘Northerns’ and Early ‘Arctic’ Films

(p.121) 8. Fact and Fiction in ‘Northerns’ and Early ‘Arctic’ Films
Films on Ice

Russell A. Potter

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter discusses the very first Arctic-set films, including the Danish Polar Bear Hunt (1906) for Nordisk, and situates burgeoning American feature film production as a continuum of pre-cinematic practices that presented the unknown Arctic, and its populations, through staged and recognisably fictional sets and exhibition modes. As these practices developed into narrative French and Hollywood silent cinema by Méliès Porter, the malleability of the Arctic region continued to be made evident through location substitution. Potter examines the early productions of companies such as Selig Polyscope and Pathé to trace the ways in which the Arctic ‘Northern’ became a staple of early cinema, and the way in which these early films blended fact and fiction. He furthermore addresses the production and early circulation of the Nell Shipman films Back to God’s Country (1919) and God’s Country and the Woman (1916), based on the writings of James Oliver Curwood.

Keywords:   Selig Polyscope, In the Frozen North, Lost in the Arctic, James Oliver Curwood, Nell Shipman, Back to God’s Country, Northern melodramas, Edwin S. Porter, early cinema

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