Edward S.Curtis in the Land of the War Canoes: A Pioneer Cinematographer in the Pacific North West (Thomas Burke Memorial Washington State Museum monographs)
BlurbEdward Curtis has become legendary for his photographs of native Americans. In the sepia tones of his still shots are the unforgettable faces that are immediately recognizable as Curtis' photography. In 1914, he made the first full-length motion picture of an aboriginal North American society. "In the Land of the Head-Hunters" portrayed the Kwakiutl Indians of the Northwest Coast in dramatic and vibrant style. Curtis hoped for critical acclaim and financial reward from this film, yet while it was highly praised by reviewers, it was a financial disaster. After its premiere in New York and Seattle, it slipped into obscurity for sixty years until George Quimby and Bill Holm presented a restored version in 1974. It now ranks with "Nanook of the North" as an ethnographic film classic. When a copy surfaced in the late 1940s, it was faded, scratched, and brittle. Holm and Quimby eventually patched and edited the footage, added sound, and changed the title to "In the Lane of the War Canoes" to better reflect the subject matter. By working directly with the Kwakiutl, many of whom had acted in the orignal film, they remained true Curtis' intent and style. The result is a unique documentary of a culture now long removed frommany of its traditions. This book is a tribute to Curtis' genius. The authors spent nearly ten years restoring his film, and as they worked, they came to know well and respect the man behind the camera. Using much hitherto unpublished material - oral histories fromIndians who had worked with Curtis, and newly discovered records, correspondence, and photographs - they present Curtis as photographer, entrepreneur, ethnologist, and sometime family man. Their careful recording of the procedures they used ot restore the film is a valuable historical document in itself. It will be of interest to anthropologists, filmmakers and film historians, and all who admire Curtis' Indian photographs.
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