"\"The plotters, anticipating Motana\'s death, \"mourn\" him as his hair, stuffed into the bodies of toads, smokes over their fire\" reads one of the title cards. This is, after all, a documentary about the Kwakiutl Indians. And yet, clearly, it is a directed story film. It\'s an unusual sort of film these days, limited to \"novel and astonishing works of unprefigured genius\" like THE GODS MUST BE CRAZY, but in reality, this is how documentaries started. Flaherty \"cheated\" by modern standards on NANOOK OF THE NORTH. CHANG has a story line imposed on it. While unedited footage of Kwakiutl Indians carving totem poles might have been a big draw in 1896, by 1914 the sophisticated filmgoer demanded more: a story line. And so we had this, by modern standard, odd .... well, call it a \"mockumentary\", but not in the sense of a Christopher Guest film. We see real Kwakiutls in real Kwakiutl regalia dancing real Kwakiutl war dances aboard real Kwakiutl war canoes. It\'s just that it\'s edited together and given titles to make it a story.
Interestingly, although a story film, this movie survives because it was saved at a couple of museums. So what can we make of it?
Well, make of it what you want. A feature film from the dawn of feature films; fascinating shots of Kwakiutl Indians when they still did these things. Do you want egg in your beer?"