The Snow Walker
You’ll immediately note the similarities with Carroll Ballard’s masterpiece Never Cry Wolf. They’re both based on books by Farley Mowat. Charles Martin Smith starred in the first one, and he directed this one. He must have fallen in love with the Arctic. I can see loving what it looks like, it’s gorgeous, but if you’d actually filmed up there I can’t imagine wanting to go back. It ain’t just the cold; there’s a scene with mosquitoes so thick you can hardly see the ground. I thought I knew skeeters, being from the Texas Gulf Coast, but these are serious skeeters!
The stories are similar, too: A man from the outside learns to survive in a harsh environment. This time, it’s cocky bush pilot who agrees to take a young Inuit woman who is suffering from TB to Yellowknife. He strays from his flight plan, the plane crashes, and they are so screwed. Macho man sets off walking, says he’ll be back soon … and the land eats him alive in a few days. The girl catches up with him and shows him all the tricks of how to live. Even sick and dying, she is a hundred times more capable than he is. They fish, kill caribou, set out for civilization …
It’s all wonderfully done, though I’d have preferred more of the two in the wilderness and less of the people back home searching and then reluctantly giving up. The best thing about it is first-time actress Annabella Piugattuk. She has got to be the prettiest girl in Nunavut, has a great screen presence … and doesn’t look particularly Inuit. Perhaps she’s half-Inuit, but in the DVD extras she is interviewed and, though she talks and giggles like a Valley girl, she’s definitely the real article, she grew up in that environment. Highly recommended.