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Every once in a while, a true gem pops up unexpectedly. This story based on a legend from the Lapps, or Saami, is just such a case in point. Everything in it works. The elements of folklore and the mythic journey come together in an amazing tale of a young man's journey to manhood and redemption. The most amazing thing about this film, however, is its realization in the cultural context from which it belongs. This is a Saami legend, told in the Saami language and Saami actors giving us a deep drink of their rich culture. The scenery is breathtaking in its stark, snow-white beauty. The tale is brutal but life in the circumpolar region we knew as Lappland was often brutal and unforgiving. This is a hearty tale of a hardy people and while it focuses on the journey and heroic adventure of a young man, it is also very much a tale of the Saami people, many of whom still follow their reindeer herds across that barren, frozen landscape today. The film is wonderful in its simplicity and honesty. There are no high dramatic moments, no cars flying across the screen, no explosions with smoke and fire billowing into the air and no open-mouth noisy smooching. As one reviewer noted, Disney, Lucas and Spielberg could well take lessons from this film. It is simply excellent and merely greatly wonderful. My only regret as an anthropologist who specialized in working with pastoral nomads, was that I never worked with the Saami or the Tibetans [viewers who liked this film should also check out Himalaya, for a similar way of life on the other side of the world from the Saami]
Pure brilliance this is!
Living very close to the land and culture that's described in the film I really enjoyed this film. The way everything's been explained and displayed in the film is very satisfying. And I might add that it's not required to have an interest in the culture to watch this movie. That is to say that the movie works on every level! Gaup delivers a very strong and entertaining movie. I only wish it can have a broader audience, because it deserves it. I have no problem recommending this film to anyone with a slight interest in movies!
Amazing isn't it? It takes a 1000 year-old Lapp legend to put Lucas and "Steven" Schpeilberg in their place. It doesn't cost multi millions of dollar$ to make a brilliant action film. It takes an intelligble script,sensitive acting and spot on directing (oh, and lots of snow). What's happened to the people who made this (including the producers)? Someday studios will realise that a good script and story will go a long way above a load of bangs and unrealistic computer graphics. Ah well! What the hey!
This is the best film ever to come out of Norway. Mythical realism on its best. I've seen it several times and it only gets better. The unpolished brutality and savage behavior in this film can only be matched by Fargo (96). Beautifully set on Finnmarksvidda, the northern most part of Norway -Way north of the arctic circle, it shows the way of the life a thousand years ago. The silent winter morning is of course interrupted. Savages from an eastern land comes to plunder and rape the same people. Less than ten minutes into the film the heros family has been brutally slayed and are being deposed of as he returns home from hunting. The Washington Post calls it Die Hard on snow, without a barefoot Bruce Willis as the american stereotyped hero, instead it's realistic - I agree.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
An excellent film based on a thousand year old legend,"Pathfinder" was
nominated for an Oscar for best foreign film. Directed by Miles Gaup, his
first film, Pathfinder is from a tale he heard from his grandfather. The
film is in the Lapp language and reflects the customs and costumes of
ancient northern Norway in the deep of winter.
The legend is of a Lapp boy, Aigin, played by Mikkel Gaup. Aigin's family is murdered by a barbarian group, the Tchudes, who are invading and killing along the way. Aigin is wounded but escapes and finds his way across waist deep snow to collapse once he reaches the nearest village. The villagers are terrified of the Tchudes, and mad at Aigin for leaving a blood trail for the murderous band to follow. Rasti-the Noidi (a sort of shaman), played by Nils Utsi, tells a frightened Aigin about visions of the great reindeer. Rasti also tells the boy about how the brotherhood of mankind is connected to everything: to be out of touch was to be a Tchude.
Most of the townspeople flee to the safety of the village on the seashore, having strength in numbers, and in the fact that it (the village) lies at the base of an extremely treacherous mountain.
A few of the original villagers stay with Aigin to fight the Tchudes: even reducing the barbarians' numbers before being captured. Rasti-the-Noidi is killed and Aigin is used as a pathfinder to locate the people who live by the sea. Aigin tricks the Tchudes on the side of the mountain and they are killed in an avalanche.
The sea-villagers see the snow engulfing the Tchudes. They go back inside their thick animal-hide tents and build their fires high, composing a story of the great boy Aigin who saves his people. Aigin shows up at their door, bloodied once again. This time, the villagers are not mad - they hand him Rasti's little skin drum. He is now Aigin-the-Noidi.
The use of subtitles is something which American viewers have a hard time accepting. American audiences have a sort of arrogance about a film that is not spoken in English. The subtitles in Pathfinder; however, are not a hindrance. Action and vocal inflection carry the storyline well enough that a viewer could probably understand what's going on without the subtitles even being there.
Besides the universal good versus evil theme, the viewers are treated to a view of a boy growing up: the way Aigin looks at the girl from the village when he's hurt versus the way he looks at her once he is the Noidi. Keeping in touch with human kind and with nature are also themes stated in this movie.
Director Nils Gaup gives the audience a bit of foreshadowing with a flying crow: to symbolize impending death. The way he films the journey shots in letterbox style is nice because the viewer can always tell when the Tchudes are traveling. The sound is interesting in that every time the Tchudes come into a scene, there is a sound like a cross between a car door slamming and a slab of foot-thick ice cracking underfoot; which is a little disconcerting, just like the Tchudes themselves.
Pathfinder has a great deal of violence in it. The body count is high enough to compare it to a Rambo, or Dirty Harry movie in the sheer amount of killing. However, in Pathfinder, the camera does not relish the gore, only uses it to convey the atrocities carried out on those peaceful Lapplanders.
Overall, Pathfinder is a wonderful movie that really has not received the attention that it rightfully deserves. It has good style, interesting culture, and a storyline that has been worked for a thousand years.
One of the many beauties of this film is the exquisite simplicity. Filming, acting, directing, costuming - all have been distilled to their essence so that the viewer is never distracted from the superb story. I watch this film several times a year (and have given it as gifts to friends) and no longer bother to read the sub-titles, so clear has the story become to me. We lost a great deal when we stopped sitting around fires telling stories to one another; this film can give some of that back to us.
The photography is beautiful. The story hooks you very quickly. The movie has something for everyone: action, romance, nature, mysticism. I saw it 20 years ago and forgot the name. I posted on IMDb and another viewer knew the movie based on my description. It takes place in prehistoric time, but the characters are very human: you feel as if they are family. While there are subtitles, there is not much dialog: you can follow the movie very well without even looking at them. The photography is stunning. Not only is the scenery gorgeous, but the camera angles and the scene composition is wonderful. This is a movie which will bless you with its memory for the rest of your life.
This beatiful movie is the first motion picture that has been shot with the Sami language as the main language. It has been shot on location here in northern Norway, and the storyline is an old tale that has been passed on by generations by the Sami people. Worth noting is also that both the crew and the cast are mainly Sami people.
In this movie, people don't talk so much as ordinary movies, however
faces, eyes, gestures express very strongly their feelings, coming
hard condition living in the nature.
Very beautiful movie with beautiful views and pure people.
This is one of the truly great Norwegian movies, and those are sort of far
between. The thing is, there's not a single word of Norwegian spoken
It's all in an ancient dialect of the Sami language. This movie is made by
Sami filmmakers based on their history. All in all that's some feat in a
country where their people were systematically oppressed by the
The attempts to wipe out their culture and assimilate them into the
Norwegian one is only outevilized by the American hunt for the
The scenery and the light in this movie is truly awesome. It's the kind of light you only get in the dark period in the arctic. The sort of neverending dusk/dawn time. For most of the year, the sun doesn't rise in this part of the world, and this results in the spooky, troll-like feeling of this film.
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