Nanook of the North (also known as Nanook of the North: A Story Of Life and Love In the Actual Arctic) is a 1922 American silent documentary film by Robert J. Flaherty, with elements of docudrama, at a time when the concept of separating films into documentary and drama did not yet exist.
In the tradition of what would later be called salvage ethnography, Flaherty captured the struggles of the Inuk man named Nanook and his family in the Canadian Arctic. The film is considered the first feature-length documentary. Some have criticized Flaherty for staging several sequences, but the film is generally viewed as standing "alone in its stark regard for the courage and ingenuity of its heroes."
In 1989, this film was one of the first 25 films to be selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".
As the first nonfiction work of its scale, Nanook of the North was ground-breaking cinema. It captured many authentic details of a culture little-known to outsiders, and was filmed in a remote location. Hailed almost unanimously by critics, the film was a box office success in the United States and abroad. In the following years, many others would try to follow in Flaherty's success with "primitive peoples" films. In 2005 film critic Roger Ebert described the film's central figure, Nanook, as "one of the most vital and unforgettable human beings ever recorded on film." In a 2014 Sight and Sound poll, film critics voted Nanook of the North the seventh best documentary film of all time.