The Snow Walker
You may think you've explored Canada until you look at a map of it. It's vast, and much of it is pretty 'empty' too. The Snow Walker is one of those movies that does a great job of capturing a landscape you'll most likely never visit – which is a very good reason to watch it. Set in the Northwest Territories in the Fifties, it tells the story of a cocky young pilot who crash-lands in the wilderness with a young Inuit woman as his passenger.
Based on a short story ('Walk Well, My Brother') by Farley Mowatt, the film stars Barry Pepper as Charlie, who is quite the lothario in his hometown of Yellowknife but reduced to useless in the endless expanse of northern Canada. He has no idea where he is, panics, makes bad decisions and nearly dies. His passenger, Kanaalaq (played by Inuit actress Anabella Piugattuk), however takes the entire disaster in her stride.
In addition to this being a wonderful story of love and redemption, it's a beautiful film, absolutely drenched in scenic shots of this great unknown land way north of the big cities like Toronto and Montreal, which hug the US border.
It's set in the Northwest Territories, and filmed in the tundra around the town of Churchill, Manitoba, and Rankin Inlet, Nunavut (the country's newest territory, formerly part of the Northwest Territories). Additional scenes were filmed in Merritt, British Columbia.
Rankin Inlet is known for its icy winds and harsh winter snowstorms, so it was a perfect setting for The Snow Walker, 75% of which is filmed on the land – land that seems to go on forever and take little mercy on those stranded there.
When they first crash, the land Charlie and Kanaalaq encounter is endlessly flat, sprinkled with tiny pools of water and rocky outcrops. As the snow descends the landscape changes, becoming bleaker and even less habitable.
Against this stark backdrop there are many beautiful moments – bathing in rocky pools, building stone pillars in the mist, sweeping panoramas and super-saturated sunsets. Best of all, a great shot of the Aurora Borealis, which lights up the sky as Charlie and Kanaalaq endure their seemingly endless walk. The movie's cinematography turns a hostile environment into a place of great beauty. Highly recommended. – Roshan McArthur