Poet of the Cinema
In this issue of Colunms, we take pleasure in turning the spotlight
on the Robert J. Flaherty Collection, which Frances Hubbard
Flaherty, the motion picture producer's widow, has presented
to the Libraries. In the article below, David Flaherty, who also
is a film-maker, writes about his brother's contribution to the
cinematic art. Editor's Note
A LTHOUGH Robert Flaherty is best known for the films
/-\\ he made—lie has been called "the cinema's first poet"
A )\ and "the father of the documentary film"—he was
first of all, and alwa\s at heart, an explorer. It was not until he
was approaching middle age that the first of his four major
films, "Nanook of the North," was shown to tiie public. This
motion picture, which opened a new career to him, was the
direct result of his explorations in the Canadian North.
He was born in 1884, the son of a mining engineer, and the
mining camps of northern Michigan and northwestern Ontario
were his early background. As a boy he learned from the In¬
dians to track and hunt rabbits and, as he grew up, he went
on long prospecting trips with his father's men, travelling by
canoe in summer and on snowshoes in winter.
Between 1910 and 1916 Flaherty led a series of expeditions
into sub-arctic Canada for Sir William Mackenzie, the great
Canadian railroad builder. Sir William had heard that there were