The other day I watched the Sami film Ofelaš — The Pathfinder. The poster shown here is from Norway, so the title is given in that language: Veivisaren. Filmed above the arctic circle and set around 1000 AD, the film tells the story of a small siida of Sami who face a mysterious invader they call the Čuđit. (The film leaves ambiguous the precise identity of the outsiders, but historically most threats to Sami territory have been Scandinavian or Russian.)
Most of the dialog is in Northern Sami (Davvisápmi), with the mysterious Čuđit speaking a nonsense language invented for the film. Nils Gaup, the director of the film, is Sami himself and his film did more to raise consciousness about the Sami and their lifestyle than perhaps anything else in the 20th century. Playing the role of the siida’s chief is Nils-Aslak Valkeapää, a famous musician and poet known for his almost single-handed revitalization of the Sami yoik.
Thomas DuBois, a folklorist at the University of Washington for many years (currently at the University of Wisconsin), wrote an article in 2000 in Sami Folkloristics in which he examined the film in light of Anthony Wallace’s theory of ‘cultural revitalization’ and Fredrik Barth’s ideas on ethnic boundaries. An interesting point he makes is that the film must tread carefully in it’s depiction of indigenous Sami religion. An important 17th- and 18th-century tradition of anti-sincretism in some Sami communities, combined with 19th-century pietism and more recent Læstadian sectarianism, renders the presentation of pre-Christian religious imagery controversial. Paradoxically, depicting a shamen on-screen could be more problematic to ethnic Sami than to non-Sami Scandinavians.
Námetom filmu bola stará severská báj, ktorú si Laponci rozprávajú z generácie na generáciu už takmer tisíc rokov. Mladík Aigin neváha obetovať svoj život, aby pomstil vraždu svojich rodičov a sestry a zachránil nevinných ľudí. V závere filmu sa stáva najváženejším členom kmeňa – stopárom. Stopár bol prvým celovečerným filmom v lapončine. Mnohé postavy hrali laponskí ochotníci z divadla Beaivaza.
A vot kuy vysi käänetti Coopera Pathfindera roocissi:
1840 - The Pathfinder
1858 - Vägvisaren "teenäüttäjä"
1893 - Stigfinnaren "tropalewtäjä"
1919 - Spejaren "salami kwntõja"
1923 - Spårsökaren "uranõccija"