For over 20 years,
Nicolas Vanier, an untiring voyager in the coldest of climes, a
veritable Jack London of modern times, has criss-crossed the wildest
regions of the far northern lands. His travels include major expeditions
in Siberia, Lapland, Alaska and of course Canada, where he recently
undertook an incredible White Odyssey: 8600 kilometres covered with a
team of sledge dogs, from Alaska all the way to Quebec. It was during
that crossing, on the floor of a sumptuous and inaccessible valley in
the Rocky Mountains, that Nicolas met the man who inspired him to make
this film, a film that has lived within the man...
He's a 50-year-old trapper named Norman Winter, and he lives with a
Nahanni woman, Nebaska. Norman has always been a trapper, with no need
of the things that civilisation has to offer. He and his dogs live
simply on what they produce from hunting and fishing. Norman made his
sledge, snowshoes, cabin and canoe with wood and leather that he took
from the forest and that Nebaska tanned, in the traditional style, just
like the Sekani did in early times, using the tannin in animal brains,
then by smoking the skin. To move around, Norman uses his dogs. They're
quiet, and with them he's ready for action at the slightest sign of
life, but all the while attentive to the majestic grandeur of the
territories he passes through. That's why Norman Winter is a trapper.
The Great North is inside him and Nebaska carries it within her, in her
blood, for the taiga is the mother of its people...
Norman and Nebaska know that a land only lives through its intimate
links with the animals, plants, rivers, winds and even colours. Their
wisdom comes from the deep and special relationship they enjoy with
nature. When Norman Winter follows an animal's trail, he studies it for
a long time, to understand the animal's exact perception of its
environment. He knows how to free himself from the immobile image that a
land evokes, then to "enter" it by comprehending what it is. To
understand that is to sense the unmistakable breathing of the earth,
it's to understand why Norman Winter is the last trapper and why he
turned his back on modern life, that he compares to a slope we slip down
blindly. Norman is a sort of philosopher convinced that the notion of
sharing and exchange with nature is essential to the equilibrium of that
odd animal at the top of the food chain: Man.
That's what this film, made over 12 months, will present, overlaying
treks on horseback during the Indian summer and by sledge in the depths
of winter, a canoe ride down a raging river at the bottom of a majestic
canyon and attacks by grizzly bears and wolves...