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Alaska Long Hunters - Directed by Mark Rose

A documentary film, Alaska Long Hunters begins with an interview that takes us into the world of long hunters-hunters whose main goal is to make expeditions to explore the unknown and unseen world of virgin Alaska. The anecdotes that the natives of the region and the hunters relate initiate us into the fascinating world that the documentary is going to depict. It tells stories of people who have searched for game for days and who have faced wild and dangerous grizzly bears in unexplored and uninhabited lands. Stories of people who are born in the wild nature of Alaska and who have spent their childhood with animals past. At the same time, the film animates the stories that the storytellers tell--showing images of bodies of survivors of bear attacks, and of animals in their natural habitats. In the interviews, we learn about memories of people who have lost their lives in the wild nature while fishing, rowing or flying. Mark Rose, the director, tells us about an air crash in which a child loses a life, and whose loss leads him to believe that God does not exist.

Simultaneous with the interviews, the film reproduces and reanimates the people's memories in the picture. We hear of the childhood of a fisherman whose father had asked him to climb up a tree, urging him not to climb down, and all the time he had been hearing bears growl and guns shoot. The images add variety to the film and avoid the monotony of interviews. And to explore and to show its subject from varied points of view, it tells us about the hardships of the life of native Alaskans who had to be innovative and take initiatives to save their horses from bear and wolf attacks. The film is replete with spectacular and brilliant images of virgin Alaska--of picturesque forests and high snowy mountains, beautiful animals, of brooks, lakes, and rivers that create beautiful scenery.

To avoid repeating the same angle and to better explore the subject, the filmmaker shifts his point of view from the hunters to the space itself, a technique that helps him to successfully explore various aspects of the subject. People who love nature enthusiastically speak of their relationship with it: of the dangers they have gone through, of looking death in the face, of the energy and love that they have received from nature, and of the joy of life among these pure beauties.

Besides its noticeably good editing that gives the film a reasonable rhythm, Alaska Long Hunters enjoys good photography. The images are clear and vivid, placing everyone in their appropriate context. The interviewees give short and clear answers, and in order to keep with the rhythm of the film, the filmmaker cuts their talk whenever necessary, carefully selecting only those parts that contribute to the description of the place, the climate as well as the hunting and air crash incidents. Although the film is 57 minutes long, the viewer smoothly follows it to the middle without even noticing the passage of time. From the middle of the film onward, in a well-thought turn, new characters are introduced who would talk about the deep passion and love of people who are in love with nature and hunting.

What is most fascinating, and the strongest point of the film in the second half is the director's meticulous reproduction of one of his flying memories. Simple visual techniques used to reconstruct the memory move the narrative satisfactorily forward and help us have a deeper experience of it. All the preliminaries that are set in the film, all the interviews, and images of pristine Alaska, climax at this memory, a memory which is the most fascinating part of the events and we know that the narrator has come out of it alive, with us not knowing how to hide our excitement.

Alaska Long Hunters is a fascinating documentary with an engaging narrative and well-placed interviews that tell us stories that contribute to a larger narrative: the story of nature lovers, who are fascinated by the pristine nature of Alaska, who have spent all their lives in the mountainous and always snowy regions. What they have gone through is astounding.


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