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Monday, February 23, 2015

'In the Land of the Head Hunters' BD: Awesome Classic Silent Film and Native Canadian Hybrid

Product Details
The newly restored Milestone Films Blu-ray version, which hits real and virtual store shelves on February 24 2015, of the 1914 silent film "In the Land of the Head Hunters" nicely demonstrates that the benefits of Blu-ray (and DVD) technology goes far beyond enhancing the effects of multi-million dollar blockbusters.

Acknowledgement of the cultural importance of "Land" includes the decision of the Library Congress to place it in the National Film Registry and the decision of the UCLA Film & Television Archive to actively participate in the restored version. The wonderfully composed music is recreated, and great stills are inserted in places in which the original footage is too damaged to include.

The comprehensive cheat sheet on the back of the two-disc release explains that photographer/filmmaker Edward S. Curtis made "Land" as part of his campaign to preserve Native American (and Canadian) culture. He worked with the Kwakwaka'wakw tribe of British Columbia and includes a plethora of their dances and other rituals and custom in this terrific melodrama that has shades of the Helen of Troy myth.

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of the trailer for "Land" nicely showcases the exceptional cinematography, perfect musical score, and overall excitement of the film.


The tale starts with Montana, who is the son of the chief of the tribe, going off of a rite of passage that is designed to both make him a man and to prepare him to serve as chief. A side benefit of this quest comes in the form of Montana meeting the beautiful Naida.

The Troy element comes in the form of Montana having an evil romantic rival absconding with Naida, thus requiring a rescue mission that is even more dramatic than the aforementioned test of manhood. Suffice it to say that the action includes silent-era melodrama staples, such as a struggle atop a cliff.

Curtis very artistically and entertainingly includes the aforementioned real-life rituals in the film. These cultural elements extend beyond meaningful dances to include the consumption of an unpleasant substance, paddling canoes, and engaging in other activities of life.

The quality of the filmmaking awesomely makes this documentary style movie as educational and informative as a pure example of that genre while making that story as exciting as the perils that befall Pauline in a better know classic melodrama from the same year as "Land."

The plethora of extras include a 1973 version of the film and several features on topics such as the restoration of "Land" and a "making of" film.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Land" is welcome to email me; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy,