Directed by Staffan Julén • Documentary • 2006 • 78 minutes
This documentary combines biography and history as it accompanies the Inuit hunter Hivshu, a.k.a. Robert E. Peary II, on a quest to trace the story of his great grandfather and his other ancestors, including the Eskimo family the famous Arctic explorer brought back with him to New York as part of an exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History in 1897.
THE PRIZE OF THE POLE uses archival footage, photos and audio recordings to chronicle Peary's exploration of the Arctic over more than twenty years and his still controversial 1909 claim to be the first man to reach the North Pole. The film also explores the activities of Peary and Franz Boas, the "father" of American anthropology, who viewed the Eskimos as barbarians, as "living fossils" for scientific study, focusing on the fate of the six Eskimos who traveled to New York with Peary, including the sole survivor, Minik, a six-year-old boy.
Along the way Robert E. Peary II visits research libraries and other historical sites in an effort to learn the truth about mysteries surrounding the preservation of his ancestors' skeletons and brains. At the end of his own exploration, having discovered a darker side of his legendary great-grandfather, especially the human price that was paid for one man to realize his dream, Hivshu proudly reclaims his native name.
"The sweep of this film is prodigous… For those with a passion for the Arctic, THE PRIZE OF THE POLE, which took Best Expedition Film at the 2008 Explorers Club Film Festival, is a must-see."—Carl. G. Schuster, The Explorers Journal