The Inuit Elegiac: One Day in the Life of Noah Piugattuk

By Russell J.A. Kilbourn, Wilfrid Laurier University, June 2019

In his January 2017 National Post review, Chris Knight remarked that if John Ford’s “The Searchers was a western, [the] Inuit film Maliglutit is a northern” (n.p.). Following this line, one might say that Zacharias Kunuk’s latest feature, One Day in the Life of Noah Piugattuk, is the Inuit High Noon. As the latest ‘northern,’ however, One Day is not a remake, re-telling or adaptation of Fred Zinneman’s 1952 western in the same way that Maliglutit (2016), beginning with its title, translates the basic story of The Searchers (1956) into a thoroughly northern, Arctic, Inuit context. High Noon is recalled in the new film in a fundamental structural sense, in the formally and thematically central confrontation between two men—gender is no accident here—at the high point of this typical Arctic spring day (the same time of year as the actual occurrence on which the film is based): the long central scene of a showdown between two men, one of whom ends up getting the better of the other, but only in the short term. [...]