MUBI Selects: Edge of the Knife (2018) - Reviewed

Preservation of culture is one of the most important and noble causes one could undertake. There are probably countless languages that have been lost through time and obscurity, and yet a concentrated effort has been raised to revive the near-dead language of the indigenous people of Haida Gwaii, a small archipelago off the western coast of Canada. One such effort includes Edge of the Knife, a fascinating local folk tale performed entirely in the Haida language and featuring exquisite cinematography showcasing the beautiful archipelago's lush landscape.

I would draw comparisons to Mel Gibson's Apocalypto, another local indigenous-focused film- but the Mayan language is at least thriving in its own community. Fewer than 30 people still speak the Haida language, and it's endangered to the same demise that Greek took so many years ago. Edge of the Knife is not just fascinating for educational purposes, however, but instead its cultural preservation of the local folklore and dialects is wrapped in a spellbinding story of familial betrayal, revenge, and ultimately forgiveness.

The performances and production, entirely undertaken by locals of the Haida Gwaii archipelago, do magnificent justice to preserving their underseen and underappreciated culture. The co-directors, Gwaii Edenshaw and Helen Haig-Brown, are locals of the island as well- this being their first production entirely in this dying language should at least prove to be a tremendous start to a great revival for the people of Haida Gwaii. It's an incredible and brutal display of showmanship that I fear will go unseen by so many who would appreciate its sheer, raw beauty.

Edge of the Knife is available to stream on MUBI through today and also to rent on Amazon Prime Video.

-Wes Ball