The Living Stone

The Living Stone

                                The Living Stone
| 32 min

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The NFB's 14th Oscar®-nominated film.

This documentary shows the inspiration behind Inuit sculpture. The Inuit approach to the work is to release the image the artist sees imprisoned in the rough stone. The film centres on an old legend about the carving of the image of a sea spirit to bring food to a hungry camp.

Please note that this is an archival film that makes use of the word “Eskimo,” an outdated and offensive term. While the origin of the word is a matter of some contention, it is no longer used in Canada. The term was formally rejected by the Inuit Circumpolar Council in 1980 and has subsequently not been in use at the NFB for decades. This film is therefore a time-capsule of a bygone era, presented in its original version. The NFB apologizes for the offence caused.

When director John Feeney set out for Cape Dorset, Baffin Island in the spring of 1957, it was with the intention of shooting two documentaries, one on Eskimo stone carvers and one on the community itself. Bad weather and other factors made it impossible to complete the shooting of the community film. Instead, Feeney concentrated on the carvers’ film. This short film would be blown up to 35 mm and distributed theatrically in Canada and abroad and would eventually earn an Oscar® nomination.

Albert Ohayon
From the playlist: The 1950s: Television and the Move to Montreal

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The Living Stone, John Feeney, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

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  • director
    John Feeney
  • script
    John Feeney
  • editing
    John Feeney
  • producer
    Tom Daly
  • photography
    Patrick Carey
    Colin Low
    Wally Gentleman
  • sound
    George Croll
  • sound editing
    Stuart Baker
  • narrator
    George Whalley
  • music
    Maurice Blackburn

  • christiane

    I just love this film... Have long loved Eskimo ways of being/living, since childhood; saw Nanook of the North aged ?7 in New York City. Oldest friend (from Montreal) and another Canadian friend, have / had many Inuit carvings in their homes, so in a way I 'grew up' with this as a hidden internal world of how people should be and relate in the world, and the sensory experiences of the carvings and their makers.

    christiane, 23 Jun 2010
  • jasonshiwak

    hello fellow viewers! i am very intrigued by this film; i remember watching it as a child in about grade 4 or 5! the only question i have is - is the tattoo on his wrist real or "poetic license"?

    jasonshiwak, 2 Mar 2010

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