Eskimo Walrus Hunt

Donald B. MacMillan
Donald B. MacMillan
Production Date: 
ca. 1920s
Filmosound Library
Commander Donald B. MacMillan
Run Time: 

Named locations: Etah, North Greenland (78' 20" North latitude), Sunrise Point, Borah
Major themes covered: Eskimo hunters in kayaks search for walrus: footage from Teens or Twenties; narration added in the early 1930s as a travel-talk.
Native activities shown:  Walrus-hunting in traditional manner.
Individuals Named
Native language spoken:none; English voiceover
Noteworthy elements:  "Note the intelligence of the Eskimo people."
Other notes:  Donald Baxter MacMillan was a noted arctic explorer in the years before and after the two world wars, making his final journey to the arctic in 1954. He was an early protégé of Commander Peary, and did some of the earliest ethnographic studies of Greenland and Labrador (Nunavut) native peoples. He was stranded in the arctic from 1914-17 during the Crocker Land Expedition. See:       --Jennifer Jenkins, 2012

  1. Donald B. MacMillan sits in the middle. He  introduces the location where he filmeded the walrus hunt (78’20 north altitude, 770miles below the north pole) (00:11--00:37)
  2. A mid-shot: Several walrus are in the water with a huge iceberg in the background (00:40—00:44).
  3. A long shot: An Eskimo rows his skin kayak towards the shore. (00:51—01:03). Then another hunter also approaches the shore. He gets off from the kayak and steps onto the icy shore (01:03—01:06)
  4. Several Eskimo hunters and their sled dogs are getting ready for the game. The camera is still and the shot goes from a mid shot to a long shot (01:07—01:21)
  5. The Eskimo hunter prepares to get into his kayak while his dogs wait on the shore.  Another hunter walks over and hands a gun to the hunter in the kayak. Then the hunter in the kayak rows away. The narrator explains why a walrus has more economic value than a seal. The reason is a walrus is larger than a seal. (01:22—01:54)
  6. An Eskimo hunter prepares to move the kayak to the water when another hunter shows up on the right. (01:55—02:22)
  7. The camera follows the hunter in the kayak. The hunter stops near the shore. The long shot becomes a mid shot. (02:23—02:38)
  8. The hunter stands in his kayak and prepares his tool (02:38—02:39). Next shot is a close up on the tool (02:40—02:44). The next shot is a mid shot on the hunter standing in the kayak and bending forward to adjust his tool (02:45—02:48). The next shot goes back to the close up shot on another tool (02:49—02:57). The hunter is in the center of the next mid shot. He looks at his tool and touches the edge of the pointed ivory weapon. He stands up and pretends to throw the weapon to the target, the walrus. (02:58—03:0).
  9. In the next mid/long shot, the hunter takes out a piece of sealskin. (03:09—03:14). The next close shot is on the hunter blowing air into the sealskin to form a balloon (03:15—03:20). After the close shot, the hunter still blows air into the sealskin in a mid/long shot. When he finishes, he places the sealskin balloon in the front of the boat. Afterwards he pushes the boat into the water (03:21—03:39). According to the narrator, when a walrus is poked, it dives into the water. The sealskin balloons attached to the weapon will tell where the walrus is.
  10. The next mid-shot is on the kayak (03:40—03:44). The following shot is a close-up shot on the design of the seat in the kayak (03:45—03:47).
  11. The Eskimo hunter gets in the seat and rows away. The shot goes from a mid shot to a long shot) (03:48—04:05)
  12. The next long shot is on the hunter rowing his skin boat/kayak (04:06—04:14). The next quick shot is a mid shot on the walrus (04:14—04:15). After the quick shot, the camera pulls back to gives a long shot on the hunter rowing his kayak (04:15—04:17).
  13. The next mid shot first is on a walrus on the right of the hunter (04:18—04:22). The Eskimo hunter, with his back to the camera, rows to the walrus (04:23—04:26). The narrator explains that the walrus has just been hit by the hunter’s weapon. Next, the camera is held from the hunter’s point of view, following the walrus (04:26—04:35). After the first person point of view shot, the camera pulls back and presents the hunter in a mid shot with the hunter hitting the walrus the second time and rowing towards the game (04:36—05:19). The narrator explains that he has an interaction with the hunter.
  14. “You are looking back thousands of years a primitive people getting their food for the next winter” (05:16—05:19)
  15. Two hunters drag the wounded walrus from the water in a mid-long shot (05:20—05:26).
  16. Four hunters gather around to drag the walrus, roll the body on the ice, and put it in the kayak (05:27—05:37).
  17. Two hunters row their boats and with two sealskin balloons (05:38—05:53).
  18. Other two hunters stand on the shore and drag the walrus on them to the shore (05:54—06:21).
  19. The next is a close shot on the walrus to show how big the walrus is (06:22—06:23).
  20. The hunters roll the body and begin to cut up the walrus (06:24—06:39).
  21. A hunter compares his own head with the walrus head  (06:40—06:42)
  22. The film ends abruptly at 06:43

--Ying-wen Yu, 2012