‘The Idea of North’ is confusing, yet boring. I understand its intention – at least the intention I see from the opening ten minutes – in that is presents tales and experiences of the North in a decidedly second-hand way. This method of relaying information fits the format of radio perfectly, as the lack of a visual heightens the sense that this is, in a sense, storytelling.
The documentary opens with a recollection of a trip to the far north of Canada, before multiple other opinions and experiences of the arctic and sub-arctic start being played over the top, layered in a muddled mess that seemed like a complete waste of three minutes. I picture the frozen north as barren and bare, why are we filling this with so many voices that I can’t string together sentences from what I’m hearing? It bothered me, and it made me uncomfortable, and not in a nice way. It frustrated me. I noticed the rising and lowing volumes of the audio tracks, bringing different voices to the forefront then letting them drop away. This would have been great with another topic, or if the little bits of audio were interesting or related, but ultimately it annoyed me.
Following that, ‘The Idea of North’ became a standard exploration of what the North means to people, different people, in different contexts, which I’d normally love but I just didn’t relate to anything that was being said or how it was edited together.