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Accidently Burned Up His Film

As a young man, film director Robert Flaherty spent many months in the far north looking for iron ore and cod. He found neither, but he did shoot 70,000 feet of film in his travels. Someone encouraged him to edit the film and make a documentary, which Flaherty spent weeks doing. But just as he finished, a match from his cigarette dropped among the celluloid, consuming the entire film and burning Flaherty badly. His response to the disaster was a determination to return to the far north and make a film of Eskimo life “that people will never forget.” He did just that, and the result was the classic 1922 documentary, Nanook of the North.

Today in the Word, July 19, 1993